Parent Alert: What Drugs Teens are Doing Might Surprise You

'Spice' -- a designer synthetic cannabinoid.
‘Spice’ — a designer synthetic cannabinoid. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Keeping up with today’s teenagers is hard work.  You would think that with cell phones, Facebook, email, voicemail, and Twitter, parents would have an easier time that ever knowing what their teens like, who their friends are, and what they are up to on their own time.  Unfortunately, all this connectedness hasn’t really helped parents understand their teenagers any better than their parents understood them.  Teens are trendy, parents generally are not.  Teens are all about the next new thing, while parents move at a different pace.  This can be the source of those infamous parent-teen power struggles but it can also create a dangerous communication gap between what parents think kids are doing and what teens are actually doing.  There is no area where this problem is more serious than drug use.

For most of today’s parents, “drugs” means cocaine, heroin, marijuana, crack, and maybe ecstasy and meth.  These were the primary drugs of their youth and they understand them.  They know what to look out for, what the signs are, and when to get help.  What they may not know, is what the list would include if you asked their teenager.  To help parents understand the drug landscape of today, here are some of the drugs today’s teens are exposed to that may be new to parents.

Bath Salts

This synthetic drug which until recently was available to anyone over the counter, is unregulated, and can be deadly.  Although this drug is called bath salts, it has no relationship to anything you put in your bathtub.  It is a synthetic derivative of a stimulant called cathinone which affects the central nervous system.  Sold in foil packages, Bath Salts are sniffed, snorted, swallowed, smoked, and injected.  They are also known under a variety of street names like Bliss, Drone, Purple wave, White Knight, White Lightning, and Vanilla Sky.   Bath Salts mimic the effects of cocaine and were included in the recent federal ban on designer drugs.

2C-E or Europa

This is your teenager’s version of Ecstasy and is a popular party drug.  Effects are similar to those experienced when taking ecstasy and often include vivid hallucinations.

K2 and Spice

According to the CDC, marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug amongst teens.  K2 and Spice are believed in be in second place.  These synthetic drugs are made from a mixture of legal herbs that is laced with a synthetic cannabinoid and mimic the effects of marijuana.  However, with K2 and Spice, the drug is more potent, remains in the body longer, and doesn’t show up in urine-based drug testing.   Until the recent federal ban on these and other designer drugs, K2 and Spice could be legally purchased in many states and over the internet.

Pharming, Pilz, and Trail Mix

While not drugs, these terms, which describe the casual and often social use of prescription medication should be on every parents radar.  Pilz is the teen term for any prescription medication taken for recreational use.  Pharming means gathering and using “pilz” stolen from their homes and the homes of others.  Trail Mix is something that may be found at parties and social events and is a combination of “pilz”.


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