As our kids gear up for a summer of fun ahead, parents need to be aware of the synthetic drugs available to kids. Some of the most common right now include N-bomb, bath salts and spice, which are street names for substances like synthetic marijuana, psychoactive plants, harmful powders and synthetic hallucinogens similar to LSD.
While the names may change, these fad substances are still just as dangerous and as relevant as ever.
According to DrugFreeAz.org, poison and drug information centers around the state have seen an increase in calls involving synthetic drugs since 2010. This is in addition to the documented reports of teens being hospitalized in Arizona from synthetic drug use.
Additionally, research shows that nearly 1 in 10 kids in Maricopa Country between the ages of 12 and 18 are using synthetic drugs.
With this number on the rise, DrugFreeAz.org is asking parents to talk to their teens this summer and take steps to make sure teens know the dangers of these and other drugs.
So, what’s the appeal to youth?
According to the “Synthetic Drugs” guide for parents created by the City of Phoenix Police Department in partnership with DrugFreeAz.org, synthetic products are popular among young people for the following reasons:
• They are easily accessible
• The chemicals used in the drugs are often not as easily detected in standard drug tests
• There is a misconception that many of the substances are “natural”
• The drugs are often perceived to be legal
The first line of defense is education so that parents are aware and can then educate their families.
• What exactly are synthetic drugs? Their labels often claim they contain “natural” ingredients taken from a variety of plants, but are actually are a mix of dried, shredded plant material along with manmade chemicals that cause mind-altering effects.
• What are the side effects? According to a recent webinar by DrugFreeAz.org, synthetic drug side effects are unpredictable due to their inconsistent makeup, but can include any combination of hallucinations, severe agitation, seizures, paranoia, loss of control, violent or aggressive tendencies or elevated heart rate and blood pressure.
• That’s just the beginning. Parents can use resources like the DrugFreeAz.org website, webinars and parent workshops to help stay informed about synthetic drugs and other substance threats facing our kids so that you can help keep your child safe.
The key piece for parents is to remember you matter. Talk early and often to your child, and don’t forget that each day is an opportunity to provide your child with valuable information that can keep them healthy, happy, and above all, safe.
For more information about synthetic drugs, parenting tips, or to find out about workshops available to parents, visit www.drugfreeaz.org.
By Shelly Mowrey