Unknown Teen Addictions: Spice, Bath Salts, and Inhalants

If you’re not a teenager, then some of the substances that are a problem in adolescence might be new to you. If you’re a caregiver or parent, you might be familiar with addictions to marijuana, alcohol, heroine, or methamphetamine, and not be aware of other drugs and chemicals that can also lead to addiction. Substances, such as inhalants, spice, bath salts, and others can create damaging addictions and dire circumstances in the life of a teen.

Spice is a synthetic marijuana product that can be sold legally. The legality of this drug might create confusion in teens, indicating that because it is legal it may not cause serious harm. However, the dangers are like any drug that can lead to an addiction: drop in grades, impairment at work or in school, behavioral concerns, relationship problems with friends and family, among others. Furthermore, spice is a serious drug. It is considered to be a Schedule I drug, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), along with heroin, marijuana, and LSD.

Spice use among teens is relatively high. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, approximately, 11% of high school seniors reported using Spice in the last year. Spice, also known as K2, has similar effects on its users as marijuana. Although it might lead to a family of euphoria, it can also cause vomiting, high blood pressure, increased heart rate, seizures, and hallucinations. The synthetic version of THC (the compound in marijuana that creates euphoria in its users) was originally created with the intent to use it for medical purposes. However, since then, others have abused the synthetic version, just as they would marijuana.

“Bath Salts” is another recent drug use trend. The name “Bath Salts” is a nickname given to different designer drugs, which is also a recent trend in drug addiction. Designer drugs are those that are made to have similar effects as other illegal drugs, such as marijuana, but have been altered just enough to keep it legal. For instance, the drug mentioned above, Spice, is a designer drug of marijuana. The makers of designer drugs will continue to make alterations to the drug’s ingredients in order to stay one step ahead of the law.  Another name for designer drugs, aside from “Bath Salts” is “Plant Food”.

Bath Salts can be even more damaging than cocaine. Its effects on the mind and body can be serious. For instance, Bath Salts affect the brain’s ability to process particular neurotransmitters effectively, resulting in an excessive amount of neurotransmitters, such as Dopamine and Norepinephrine. Although too much of these two neurotransmitters create the feeling of euphoria, it also leads to damaging effects such as rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, damage to the blood vessels, heart attack, heart failure, and a stroke. Other stimulants, such as cocaine, typically wear off relatively quickly; however the effect of Bath Salts can last up to four hours.

Some adolescents might be looking for a quick high and choose to use solvents or inhalants around the house. Although they are legal, they can be extremely dangerous, even leading to death with the first use. Solvents, paints, and fuels are likely substances found in the garages of most homes. Although this type of drug use peaked in the 1990’s, it continues to be a problem among teens. Different forms of inhalants that teens use for a high include glue, gasoline, nail polish remover, shoe polish, paint and paint thinner, aerosol products, and correction fluid. The effects of inhaling these products can last from 15-30 minutes and create a feeling of euphoria. However, damaging effects include a rapid heart rate, central nervous system problems, spasms in limbs, brain damage, and hearing loss. Although these can result in those who use inhalants regularly, they can also appear after first time use.

Although the drugs listed above may not be as well known, their effects are just as serious. Communicating with your child about these, and other drugs, is worth any discomfort either of you might experience during such a conversation. Not talking to your teen about drug use is about as dangerous as him or her using them.

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