With a new school year just around the corner, parents and concerned family members might need to do more than ready their children’s wardrobes, technology devices and sports gear for the year ahead. Parents might consider giving themselves a refresher course in how to protect their children from the temptation to experiment with drugs.
This is an appropriate time to learn about some of the drugs kids will likely encounter during the school year — whether on school property or with their peers at a party, a friend’s house, a recreational or entertainment activity, or even their own home. Educating yourself means finding out about some of the new drugs making the rounds, as well as a few standbys.
Flakka: The $5 “Insanity” Drug
Every year there seems to be a slew of televised reports of some new drug that’s wreaking havoc on young people. This year that dubious distinction goes to flakka, a synthetic designer street drug dubbed the “$5 ‘insanity’ drug.”
It got this name for good reason: The effects of flakka can result in bizarre behaviors, even death. Users swallow, snort, smoke or inject the drug to achieve its euphoric effects, which are instantaneous. Users claim that smoking flakka allows them to maintain some level of control, whereas injecting the drug is like going from “0 to 100 mph.” The drug can easily be concealed in e-cigarettes, and that ease with which users can hide it should be a concern for parents.
Reports in the news media showing people exhibiting extreme paranoia, violence, aggression, delirium, hallucinations and worse are frightening to watch, but they’re also instructive. Flakka in any form is nothing to mess with. It also sends blood pressure skyrocketing, causes seizures, shuts down the kidneys and breaks down muscles.
The effects of flakka are also long-lasting. Five to six months later, some victims still can’t control their thoughts. Make sure you know as much as you can about this drug, and talk with your children about it so that they don’t wind up victims of its potentially deadly effects.
Bubbly: Liquid Weed, Pure THC
It’s a concentrate of Killer Kush, a substance called “Bubbly” that’s liquid weed and pure tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). In marijuana, THC is the main ingredient, the one that results in mind-altering states. But marijuana normally contains other ingredients in addition to THC. And while the strength or potency of THC has increased over the years, it still isn’t pure in most marijuana. Multiply the diluted effect of THC in most marijuana by thousands, and you get the idea of the potency of pure THC.
When inhaled in a device, Bubbly can cause the user to go from brain-functioning to out of their mind in seconds. Reports showing users screaming in terror, wailing that their head is on fire, whimpering in a corner inconsolably, and being extremely agitated and unable to function aren’t just scary — they’re indicative of just how dangerous this new drug making the rounds is. As with other new drugs hitting the scene, the more educated you are about what they are and the potential dangers their use holds for kids, the better prepared you’ll be to talk with your teens about them — and to watch out for the signs of use so you can immediately get help.
Spice: Synthetic Cannabinoids
The most common name for a synthetic cannabinoid — or synthetic marijuana — that you’ve likely heard is “Spice.” But this product carries many names, each designed to attract and hook young users. In June 2015, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report stating that deaths from synthetic cannabinoid use had tripled since 2014. Synthetic cannabinoids (and flakka is one of them) include various psychoactive chemicals, or a mixture of these chemicals, that are sprayed onto a plant material and then smoked or ingested to get high. Besides Spice, other names for synthetic pot include Black Mamba, K2 and Crazy Clown.
What’s the danger? Besides the high expected from marijuana, other effects include rapid heartbeat, agitation, confusion and vomiting, which can be unexpected and long-lasting. Also, there’s no quality control in these street drugs. Users never know what’s really in them — and that’s probably the most frightening fact of all. Synthetic cannabinoids are never safe to use. Parents are wise to be on the lookout for any signs their children are using them — but it’s far better to have a calm discussion of the dangers of such use and experimentation long before the kids go back to school.
Some of the Standbys
While new street drugs come and go, and others take on new names, the usual list of suspects seems to survive year after year. Some take on cult status after being dormant for decades, as with the resurgence in use of LSD. Drugs that have been around and still cause problems for young people include:
- Ecstasy (MDMA)
- Molly (a purer form of ecstasy)
- Methamphetamine and crystal methamphetamine, or ice
- Cocaine, including crack cocaine
- Study drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin used for purposes other than their intended medical use
By Suzanne Kane