It’s scary to think about what kids do to get high these days. Despite a parent’s best efforts, their child may still get caught up in peer pressure or experiment with drugs and alcohol. For instance, they can wind up at parties where substance abuse is prevalent. Another example is they may start using drugs or alcohol to avoid or “deal with” some difficulty or pain. No matter the situation, a parent should be aware of the factors that lead to teen and preteen drug abuse, what kids do to get high, the signs of drug use, and how to talk to their children about this serious subject.
Teen Drug Abuse and What Kids do to Get High
With the number of prescription/designer drugs on the market these days, young people are around an ever-widening variety of psychoactive substances. Here are some of the drugs which kids commonly abuse.
1. Alcohol: High school-aged and college-aged kids frequently use alcohol, specifically binge drinking (consumption of an excessive amount of alcohol in a short period) as a rite of passage. First and foremost, the numbers tell us a lot: 69% of kids are consuming alcohol (more than just a few sips) by the time they graduate high school. The biggest dangers of teen drinking are sexual assault and drunk driving. One bright spot in the statistics is that binge drinking levels are reducing over the years. According to a 2012 government survey, 24% of kids in high school report having five or more drinks in a row on at least one occasion two weeks before the survey. That number 30 years ago was around 40%.
2. Marijuana: Marijuana (cannabis) is the second most commonly abused drug for teens. A national survey shows that more young people believe smoking pot is “not dangerous” or “no big deal” than in previous years. This perception of risk has an impact on whether or not the young person abuses pot. Another drug which is becoming a contender among young people is “Spice” or “K2,” also known as “synthetic marijuana.” These drugs are designer (synthetic) versions of pot, which means they make them in labs. They give the same high that marijuana gives the user. What kids to get high from these is just like marijuana – meaning they most often smoke them. However, sometimes what kids do to get high from synthetic marijuana is brew it in tea.
3. Prescription Medications: There are many prescription drugs that kids get access to for getting high. Young people most commonly obtain prescription drugs from friends or stealing from family. Stimulants (uppers) like Ritalin, Adderall, and Desoxyn are drugs that young people abuse to take a test, cram for an exam, or for “recreational” purposes.
Depressants (downers) are used by young people to obtain highs similar to those achieved by using opiates such as morphine or heroin. These drugs cause slowed heart rate, slowed breathing, depression, and can result in a coma or death. In addition, psychotropic drugs are what kids do to get high also.
Often the young person has no idea what they are taking. Any of these drugs can have disastrous effects on the user. The perception can be that these drugs are “safe” because they are legal. The truth is that they are just as dangerous as any street drug, particularly if individuals are abusing them. What kids do to get high from these drugs is steal them and take them not even knowing what they are and mixes them with alcohol. Doing this is extremely dangerous and can be fatal.
4. Over-the-Counter Drugs: These types of drugs can include anything from cough syrup to Tylenol. Sometimes what kids do to get high from these drugs is take a high dosage, mix them together, or take with alcohol. Some of the most commonly abused over-the-counter drugs are:
- Cough syrup containing dextromethorphan, pseudoephedrine or codeine as its active ingredient.
- Pain relievers like Aspirin, Tylenol or Advil.
- Caffeine pills and energy drinks like NoDoz, Red Bull, and 5 Hour Energy.
- Diet pills, laxatives, and motion sickness pills.
- Sexual performance medications
5. Hallucinogens: Hallucinogens distort an individual’s perception of reality and have also been found to damage brain cells permanently. Just a few include ketamine (a veterinary anesthetic), LSD, peyote, and hallucinogenic mushrooms. MDMA (aka Ecstasy or Molly), also classed as a stimulant, has grown in popularity recently. The reason for this growth may be partly due to endorsements by famous musicians like Miley Cyrus, Nicki Minaj, and Wiz Khalifa. Additionally, “Molly” has been touted as a “safe” and “pure” form of ecstasy even though it is either MDMA or some other drug or toxin in crystallized form.
6. Other Drugs: There are some other drugs that kids do to get high. Many of these are well-known street drugs like cocaine, heroin, PCP, and methamphetamine. Others are drugs not often associated with voluntary abuse, like the “date rape drugs” GHB and Rohypnol. Inhalants are household or industrial chemicals that young people abuse by “huffing” the vapors. These include glue, nitrous oxide, gasoline, lighter fluid, spray paint, and others. What kids do to get high can include more than 1,000 common household items we use every day. They are highly toxic and huffing these chemicals can result in instant death by asphyxiation. The bottom line is that there are many drugs and mind-altering substances which can be abused by young people. Statistics show that almost 50% of youth will try at least one illicit substance by the time they graduate high school.
Warning Signs That Your Kid May be Taking Drugs
There are some signs that indicate your child or teenager may be taking drugs. Although while just one of these signs is often not definitive proof that your kid is abusing drugs, spotting it may give you the opening you need to begin a discussion about drugs with your child:
- Lowered interest in activities which once intensely interested them.
- Drug paraphernalia like a bong, rolling paper, lighters, straws, empty pill bottles, hypodermic needles, and empty plastic bags.
- A loss of interest in personal grooming or appearance.
- A drastic change in friends.
- Skipping classes, declining grades, or trouble in school.
- Withdrawn or antagonistic behavior.
- Money is missing from the house or medication lacking in the medicine cabinet.
- Exhaustion, weight loss or gain, or changes in sleep patterns.
- Medical complaints, frequent nosebleeds, or unexplained injuries.
- Clothes or person smells strange. They may frequently burn incense or use a spray to cover up smells.
Solutions to the Problem
Of course, preemptive drug education is the most efficient approach. Properly done, the young person is not likely to try drugs because they know the outcome. However, if you suspect your child is using drugs, it’s important to be open and honest about your concerns. While they are your child, they deserve the same respect you would give an adult. It is important to discuss your suspicions and why you have them. Then allow your kid to communicate to you in a way that makes them feel safe.
You want your child to be open and honest about their problem. Drug or alcohol abuse is essentially a cry for help. In the end, many young people take drugs because they are struggling with something. Furthermore, discovering the underlying issues your child is attempting to work through can help immensely. Remember, growing up is a tough time in anyone’s life. Your help and support will only strengthen their ability to become a happier person.