Parents Beware: Dangerous Teen Trends
by The Miami-Dade Police Department
October 25, 2011
In today’s society, parents must be extra vigilant of the possible dangers their teens may face. The internet affords teens the opportunity to secretly explore various ways of experimenting with trends that, although may seem like the “in” or “cool” thing to do, carry serious risks and dangers. Here are a few of the most recent dangerous teen trends.
The new drug, which was sold legally as “bath salts” in head shops and liquor stores, grabbed national headlines when it was outlawed by Louisiana in January 2011. Florida was the second state in the U.S. to place a ban on the substance and the DEA has recently placed an emergency temporary ban making it illegal to sell or posses in the United States. The bath salts have been found to contain mephedrone and MDPV, two drugs that cause severe hallucinations and psychosis in users who smoke, snort, or inject the substances. A single use causes intense cravings that results in three to four day binges and can end in suicide.
By adding cough syrup with codeine to a soft drink and candy (usually Sprite and Jolly Ranchers), teens create what they consider a quick remedy for tension, anxiety, and aggression. The drink can be made with the over-the-counter medications which contain dextromethorphan. Normally used as a cough suppressant, in large doses this substance causes hallucinations. A single use can be lethal to an inexperienced user. Other possible side effects include drowsiness, inability to concentrate, slowed physical activity, constipation, nausea, vomiting, and slowed breathing.
“K-2” or Synthetic “Fake” Marijuana
It’s called “Spice,” “K2,” “Bliss,” “Black Mamba,” “Bombay Blue,” “Genie,” “Zohai,” “Blaze,” and “Red X Dawn,” and is really synthetic marijuana. The product consists of plant material coated with research chemicals that mimic THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. The product is labeled as incense (probably to mask the real intended purpose), and kids were able to purchase it easily online or at the corner store. The medical profession warns that K-2 has the potential for long-term effects including hallucinations, increased heart rate and even respiratory failure. The DEA took emergency action to outlaw herbal and chemical blends sold as synthetic marijuana in March 2011 to avoid imminent threat to public safety.
Afraid to be caught with the smell of alcohol on their breath, many teens have taken up the vodka eyeballing trend. Instead of throwing back a shot, teens hold the bottle to their eye and pour the liquid directly into the eye, which is laden with blood vessels. Here, the alcohol is quickly absorbed through the mucous membrane and enters the bloodstream immediately through the veins at the back of the eye. Eyeballing may yield a quick buzz without the bad breath but there can be extreme consequences: Because most vodkas are between 40 and 50 percent alcohol, it can scar and burn the cornea, and even cause blindness.
“Vodka (or Drunken) Gummy Bears”
Using online tutorials, some teens are soaking the candy in vodka for several days and eating it to get a buzz. The instructional videos show teens how infuse the candy with alcohol – vodka, in particular, because it’s odorless. The end result is “drunken gummies” that can be put into plastic baggies and taken to parties, the movies, football games, and just about anywhere. Police departments warn parents to be on the alert for the booze-soaked bears, especially as Halloween nears. The danger lies in the fact that teens can’t tell how much alcohol they’re actually putting into their system with the drunken bears.
“Smoking Smarties” is another dangerous trend that is making the rounds on YouTube. Like with drunken gummies, instructional videos show kids how to partake in “smoking” Smarties, a trend that hit the scene in 2009, but is making a revival in 2011. Smoking Smarties doesn’t involve alcohol and is popular with the middle school set. To “smoke” Smarties, the candy is crushed up into a fine powder. One end is opened and kids puff the sugar into their mouths and exhale it like cigarette smoke. With this fad come health risks, especially if the sugary powder is inhaled. Health experts told Fox News that smoking Smarties could lead to infections, chronic coughing, chocking, and even maggots feeding off the sugary dust.
Parents, be aware of changes in your teen’s behavior and warn them about the dangers of drug abuse, both legal and illegal substances. Social pressures are constantly changing and new trends emerging. Both parties must be open-minded and willing to listen. It’s not about having that one talk about substance abuse, but establishing an open line of communication.