Teens are in more danger today than ever, due mainly to the new and creative ways they are finding to get high. Because of the difficulty in getting illegal drugs, increasing numbers of teens are turning to prescription drugs, household products, and other easy to get substances to get a cheap thrill. Unfortunately, these substances are extremely dangerous, highly addictive, and often deadly. As this fad continues to gain popularity, addiction nurses can expect to see an increase in young patients who have made bad choices. Below are some of the most popular choices for teens looking for an illicit thrill:
- Bath Salts – Although the name is deceptively innocent, the bath salts kids are enjoying have nothing to do with the legal fragranced Epsom salts. Instead, bath salts is the street name for synthetic drugs that can be inhaled, injected, or snorted. These drugs provide much the same experience as cocaine and amphetamine and are readily available in most parts of the country. The drugs are sold in colorful, eye-catching packages labeled ‘not for human consumption’ and can be found in such seemingly harmless places as convenience stores. Luckily, late last year, the FDA made it illegal to sell or possess the three most common ingredients in bath salts, and many areas are working to outlaw their sale. Use of bath salts has been proven to cause heart palpitations, headaches, cold fingers, nausea, hallucinations, panic attacks, and paranoia. In addition, there have been many reported cases of bath salts users having heart attacks, kidney failure, liver failure, violent behaviors, increased pain tolerance, or committing suicide.
- Glass Cleaner – This is another drug with a deceptive name. Glass cleaner is a powdery white drug that is very similar to cocaine. It has basically the same effects as bath salts but can be taken rectally, through an IV, orally, by snorting, or by inhaling. The drug takes hold on users within minutes and lasts for hours. Because it takes a much higher dose of glass cleaner than methamphetamines to get the same high, it is highly addictive and provides a tremendous chance of overdose.
- Skittles Parties – If only our youth were interested in fruity candies, there would be less concern. Skittles parties are not so innocent, however. Also known as pharm parties, skittles parties are major events in which teens swipe handfuls of prescription drugs from their families as party favors. All pills are thrown in a bowl and teens grab handfuls to take at the party or to imbibe later at home. This is such a major problem that roughly 20% of high school aged kids have admitted to partaking of prescription drugs to get high.
- Huffing – Huffing is not new by any stretch, but is becoming more popular among teens. The nation’s young are constantly trying new products for their deliberate concentrating and inhaling. One of the most popular substances for huffing among teens is Dust Off, a computer cleaning spray. It is popular because the effects can be felt almost immediately. Teens who huff Dust Off report feeling lightheadedness and a loss of inhibitions. Too often, however, this is accompanied by nosebleeds, nausea, and impaired coordination. In severe cases, it can also cause permanent brain, liver, heart, kidney, and lung damage and can also cause sudden cardiac arrest with the first use.
For an addiction nurse, seeing young patients suffer can be one of the most heartbreaking parts of the job. Unfortunately, it seems that teens keep getting more creative with their recreation. As they do, the job of an addiction nurse will continue to get more difficult.