Teen Designer Drug Abuse: The Drugs Teens Are Abusing That You’ve Never Heard of
The makers of designer drugs study the chemical formulations of known addictive substances and they tweak the formulas just a little bit, ensuring that the products they’re developing are just as effective as the banned substance, but just different enough that the new substance might be considered legal.
When it comes to drug abuse in their children, most parents lean on their senses to help them detect a problem. In essence, they hope that they’ll smell drug-tinged smoke when they walk past the bedroom, see bloodshot eyes when their teens come home from parties or hear their teens use code words like “horse” or “Vike” when they talk to their friends. Clever parents can use cues like this to identify an ongoing substance abuse problem, and they can usher their children into treatment when they see these warning signs. There are some drugs of abuse, however, that teens don’t tend to use on a habitual basis, but using the drugs even once could be disastrous. These are the designer drugs, and learning more about them could allow parents to intervene when their children begin to experiment.
What Is a Designer Drug?
Experts place drugs in categories depending on what they do inside the human body. Often, these categories are used in order to ban a specific type of substance and ensure that it isn’t available for recreational use. The makers of designer drugs study the chemical formulations of known addictive substances and they tweak the formulas just a little bit, ensuring that the products they’re developing are just as effective as the banned substance, but just different enough that the new substance might be considered legal. An example might make this a bit easier to understand.
According to federal laws, marijuana is a dangerous substance that is illegal. It can’t be manufactured or sold within the borders of the country as a result. Makers of designer drugs like K2 and spice have studied marijuana closely, and they know just what latching points this drug used within the brain. Their products work just like marijuana, but they have a different chemical structure and they’re considered legal.
Makers of designer drugs can play an endless game of cat and mouse with governmental officials, changing their formulations over and over again to elude the laws that have been written regulating drug use. That’s just what seems to be happening with the makers of spice and K2, according to Pediatric News, as synthetic forms of marijuana still seem to be available on the market even though they were banned by the federal government in 2012. Changing the ingredients allows these makers to stay one step ahead of the law.
Typical Examples and Uses
Any drug that’s made in a laboratory could be considered a designer drug, but the term is often applied only to drugs of abuse, rather than to prescription medications.
Common examples of designer drugs include:
Often, according to an article in the journal Pediatrics, people who use these drugs buy them online, and the manufacturers’ websites contains only positive information about what the drugs can do. These sites can be incredibly sophisticated, suggesting that the drugs will be life-altering and incredibly fun for teens to try. If the teen places an order, the drugs are delivered in discreet packages, which may allow some teens to sneak their purchases past their unsuspecting parents.
They might videotape their experiences and share their stories on social media, which might increase their “cred” with people at their school. If they can survive an encounter with a dangerous drug, they might seem much more powerful than the average teen. Some teens also take these drugs at parties. Certain types of designer drugs increase a sensation of affection and happiness, allowing teens to enjoy one another in a party situation in ways they might not be able to experience while sober. Designer drugs might also make music more interesting and lights more intense, and this can also be a draw for some teens.
Dangers of Designer Drugs
Some designer drugs cause such intense symptoms so quickly that teens don’t have a chance to adjust, and teens have died from these experiences. According to Fox News, this is what happened to two teens in North Dakota who took a designer drug known as “Smiles.” It’s likely that these teens didn’t know that this synthetic amphetamine could cause them to hyperventilate or stop breathing, but that’s exactly what happened to them. Other designer drugs can cause symptoms that are also life-threatening. Some designer drugs cause intense sweating and a fast heart rate, and teens may have a lowered thirst response. At a crowded dance party, teens on drugs like this could become so overheated and so dehydrated that they lose their lives.
Designer drugs are also made in clandestine labs that have no local, state or federal oversight. There’s no way to know how strong these products are, and there’s no testing done to ensure that the products are pure. Designer drugs can be contaminated with other substances, including:
- Inert substances, like silica or chalk dust
Teens who take designer drugs may be fine on the first attempt, but the next time they try the same drug, they may have a contaminated batch or the drugs are stronger than they were before. It’s a form of Russian roulette, and the teen may be the loser.
Designer drugs are new, and as a result, medical experts haven’t had a chance to study how all of these drugs work and what changes they can cause within the human body. While doctors and therapists might have very clear ideas about how older drugs like marijuana and alcohol work, they may be at a loss to describe why K2 seems to bring about its effects, as they just aren’t sure what ingredients make up the drug and they haven’t done the decades-long testing of people who take this drug, so they can’t see what kind of damage it might cause over the long-term.
There is anecdotal evidence that suggests that teens take designer drugs only occasionally, using the drugs as a social adventure. However, teens who dabble in designer drugs tend to use many different kinds of drugs as they attempt to control the sensations they’ll experience. In a study of the issue, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, researchers found that 82 percent of designer drug users had used three or more different types of drugs during their lives. It’s quite possible that these teens could be doing intense damage on multiple fronts, and this could lead to a complex poly-drug addiction.
People who are addicted have a compulsive need to use drugs, even when that drug use interferes with their day-to-day lives. Teens who abuse designer drugs may fit this description if they’re taking these drugs regularly, and they’re unable to stop taking the drugs even when they want to do so. Teens like this will need counseling help in order to recover.
At Muir Wood, we provide this kind of care for adolescent boys. We’re happy to discuss how treatment for designer drug addictions work, and we’re happy to help your son learn more about how he can use his inner strength to keep a relapse to drug use at bay. We can even provide therapies that are designed to nourish your child’s emotional development, preparing him for a happy and healthy adulthood. Please download our admissions packet to find out more, or call our toll-free number to speak with a representative.
Ecstasy Abuse: The Addiction That Stays After The Party
If the makers of ecstasy were honest, they’d use words like “speed derivative” or “dangerous” to describe their product, and each caplet of the drug would be marked with a skull and crossbones.
This technique wouldn’t be likely to lure in buyers, however, so it’s not surprising that manufacturers use a completely different approach when they’re attempting to sell ecstasy. They call their pills “hug drugs” or “love drugs,” and they decorate their tablets with hearts, flowers or smiling faces. Where adults might be suspicious of this type of action, teens might not. In fact, they might believe what they’re told, and they might choose to take the drugs, with terrible consequences.
Measuring the Prevalence
The number of teens who use ecstasy is relatively small, but that number is on the rise. According to the Partnership at Drugfree.org, 10 percent of teens admitted to using the drug in 2010, which is a 67-percent increase from 2008 levels. It’s not entirely clear why so many more teens are choosing to experiment with this drug, as teens are individuals and one person’s reasons for using a drug might be completely different than the reasons another person might cite, but it is clear that this is a drug that is moving from the fringes of teen society to the center.
In the past, ecstasy was used primarily as a club drug. Teens who went to dance parties and all-night raves took this drug because it allowed them to stay awake and aware for hours, while the changes in perception the drug brought about made the music and pulsing lights all the more interesting and exciting. Teens also seemed to enjoy touching others and being touched while they were on ecstasy, and this made crowded dance floors all the more appealing. Now, researchers suggest that teens are taking ecstasy in much the same way that they might take alcohol or marijuana.
A study in the journal Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy found that the percentage of teens who took ecstasy at 14 years was 7 percent, but that number rose to 13 percent when the teens reached age 16. These are increases seen in other drugs of abuse, which seems to indicate that teens are experimenting with ecstasy in much the same way they’d experiment with other addictive drugs. No parties are required for these jumps in usage. If this kind of widespread acceptance continues, it’s likely that ecstasy abuse rates will also rise in the coming years.
Ecstasy is often taken orally, and the drug tends to stay active within the user’s body for three to six hours, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports. Teens might take repeated doses to extend the length of time in which the drug is active, or teens might mix this drug with other drugs, such as:
Taken alone, in pure form, ecstasy is designed to boost the production of serotonin, and augment the usage of other brain chemicals, including dopamine and norepinephrine. Tweaking brain chemicals like this could be devastating, but mixing and matching other drugs with ecstasy could add to the danger as many of these drugs work on the very same chemicals. A teen could overdose due to these matching habits, without ever realizing that danger is near.
Pure ecstasy is closely related to both amphetamine and hallucinogens like mescaline, but it’s rare for teens to obtain pure forms of this drug. According to Brown University, a 1996 study found that 58 percent of pills sold as ecstasy had less than 25 percent of ecstasy ingredients. Pills teens take might include other additives, including rat poison, atropine or heroin. The purity of the drugs are far from guaranteed, so teens who take these pills may be taking terrible risks with their health.
Ecstasy and the Mind
Teens often claim that ecstasy is safe, and taking the drug on an occasional basis shouldn’t cause any kind of alarm. Unfortunately, studies don’t seem to support this statement. In one study of the drug’s safety, outlined in the journal Addiction, researchers measured participants’ memory skills, both before they had taken the drug and a year later, when they had taken the drug just 10 times. Those participants had decreased short-term and long-term memory abilities, when compared to their scores prior to drug use. These users might not have known that they had memory loss, but it was a deficit verified in this study.
The surges in brain chemicals can overwhelm those cells, and the brain may adjust the production of and the receptiveness to those chemicals, ensuring that this big boost doesn’t take place in the future. These amendments could mean that teens aren’t making as many neurochemicals as they should, and they might not be receptive to the chemicals their brains do make. They could face severe depression as a result. In a study of the issue, conducted in Canada, researchers found that teens who took ecstasy at least once while in the 10th grade had a 70-percent greater change of experiencing depression in the 11th grade. It’s clear that the chemical changes due to the abuse could make mental health harder to achieve.
Studies like this seem to suggest that ecstasy could be so dangerous that teens could lose their lives due to the damage they endure.
Teens who abuse ecstasy could have problems with cognition and emotion in time, but they could also struggle with the side effects of the drug that take place during intoxication.
For example, ecstasy can cause:
- Rapid, irregular heart rates
- Tense muscles
- Clenching teeth
Teens with these symptoms may just feel ill, but teens who have underlying health conditions could die while under the influence. Heart problems, for example, could come to the surface when teens take ecstasy and find that their hearts begin to gallop out of control.
At high doses, ecstasy can also cause the body’s temperature to rise by 5 to 10 degrees, and research conducted at the University of Adelaide suggests that teens who experience this side effect may not have the ability to recognize that they’re too warm. They may not feel hot, and they may not sense danger. These teens might keep walking, dancing or talking, without resting, drinking water or moving to a cool, dark room to rest. These teens could collapse and die, without even realizing that something had gone wrong.
If teens are learning about ecstasy from their friends, they may not have a reliable way to determine how dangerous this drug really is. Parental involvement could be key here, as parents might be able to talk frankly with their teens about what this drug is, what it can do and why it should be avoided. Teens should be told all about the effects of the drug, including the scarier aspects of usage, and they should be reminded that there is no “safe” ecstasy to take. The drug is illegal; it’s not regulated by the government and its purity can’t be confirmed. Therefore, it’s simply not safe. Teens who claim that an herbal ecstasy is on the market and that this drug is safer also need a wakeup call. According to Medscape, this drug contains ephedrine, and it’s been associated with severe heart damage and death. It’s no safer than a standard ecstasy pill.
Once teens understand what the drug is, they’ll need reminders that drug use isn’t tolerated within the home. Open communication is key, and parents might need to reinforce their message by reminding the teen on a regular basis that taking drugs is simply not accepted. Some teens will be able to comply with this rule quite easily, and they’ll willingly give up their drug use when they’re told to do so. Others might need the help of an addiction treatment program. Ecstasy can cause profound changes in brain chemistry, as mentioned, and this can make it difficult for teens to give up the use of drugs on their own. They might need the assistance of counselors, and a sober environment, so they can learn more about why they began using drugs and what they might need to do to keep that drug use from taking place in the future.
If your son needs this kind of help for an ecstasy use issue, please contact us. At Muir Wood, we specialize in helping adolescent boys overcome their addiction issues. We use intensive therapy techniques to help our clients avoid the temptation to relapse, and we provide our clients with life skills coaching, so they can enter adulthood with the skills they’ll need to succeed in the outside world. Please call us if you’d like to find out more about the help we can provide.
Kratom Abuse And The Harmful Side Effects
Despite being legal, Kratom can lead to serious health problems among teens who take the drug.
Kratom is one of those substances that, when used in the proper doses, can have some positive effects, according to an article from US News; however, like alcohol, taken inappropriately, it can also have devastating effects, up to and including addiction. Kratom has been used in Asia for thousands of years as an ancient herbal remedy for pain. It is widely available on the Internet and perfectly legal to purchase—by anyone, at any age—in the United States. It comes in a capsule or a powder, which is added to shakes or “health” drinks. As a parent, you may have even come across the “tea” leaves in your teen’s schoolbag.
The dangers of Kratom use among teens stems from the reasons for taking the substance in the first place.
Kratom acts on the same receptors in the brain as opioid drugs, like prescription pain medications.
When taken in small amounts, it can be a stimulant — adding energy to a party that might be ripe with the depressant effects of alcohol. When taken in larger doses, it acts as a depressant with the same type of effects as heroin, including a relaxing and lethargic feeling of euphoria.
When taken in even higher doses, the effects can lead to a trip the emergency room with symptoms such as:
It is important to note that, according to the article in US News, these symptoms are provided by a website that sells Kratom online. Even the manufacturers and distributors of the product understand the risks. Countries that have dealt with Kratom abuse for longer than the United States understand the risks as well. The list of Asian countries that have banned the substance includes Thailand, where a great deal of the plant is grown for human consumption around the world.
Supporting Your Teen Through Recovery
In the end, the most important aspect of recovery is getting there. If your teen has been involved in drug abuse activities, you may have – at least in the beginning — been concerned about him breaking rules and other inappropriate behaviors. While these issues are not to be taken lightly, of course, now that your teen is ready to embark on a treatment path, your support and love are crucial to his success. Remember, when a teen – or any individual for that matter – suffers from addiction, he often behaves in a way that is not in accordance with the person he really is in the deepest corners of his true self.
Bath Salts: A Dirty Word
Bath Salts may sound relaxing after a long day,however, this new trend of using drugs with this seemingly harmless name has alarming results.
“Bath salts” is the nickname given to a variety of designer drugs. While the Drug Enforcement Agency has taken steps to ban the ingredients found in bath salts, they are up against a well-equipped, overseas manufacturing process that is often one step ahead of them. These drugs are known as bath salts because this was the first mock product name under which the drug was sold – legally – across the country. The same dangerous combinations of chemicals are often labeled as other products, as well, including “plant food”.
What Are the Effects of Bath Salts?
According to a report from Fox News, bath salts can be taken orally, by inhaling the powdered drug, or by liquefying and then injecting the substance. When the drugs are taken by inhalation or injection, the effects are made even more brutal.
A recent study conducted at the National Institute on Drug Abuse has found that one chemical used in bath salts can be more damaging to the body than cocaine.
Bath salts affect the brain’s ability to process certain neurotransmitters effectively. The brain is made up of cells that contain necessary elements for communication of thoughts and feelings. One brain cell, or neuron, will release chemicals (neurotransmitters) which are then picked up by a receiving neuron. If too much of the chemical is released, a transporter on the original neuron will absorb the excess chemical back into itself.
Drugs like bath salts inhibit the ability of the original neuron to make this correction, resulting in an excessive amount of the neurotransmitter. Dopamine and norepinephrine are the two neurotransmitters that come under attack by bath salts. Too much dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain results in the intense stimulation – or “high” – that teens are looking for. It can also lead to a dangerously rapid heart rate and high blood pressure. High blood pressure as a result of illicit drug use can result in many tragic consequences. For instance, it can lead to long-lasting damage to the blood vessels, which can affect one’s health over the long-term. High blood pressure can also create issues such as a heart attack or heart failure, or even a stroke.
As reported in the New York Daily News, a young man who was under the influence of bath salts attacked an elderly neighbor and continued to act violently when the police finally gained access to his apartment. Yahoo! News has reported that it is the physical interference with the dopamine and norepinephrine reuptake that causes the violent and terrifying behavior. Unlike other stimulants, such as cocaine, which wear off quickly, the effects of bath salts can last for hours as the hormones in the brain continue to collect. The individual will then experience intense “fight or flight” responses, causing them to lash out.
Teen Bath Salts Abuse Can Lead to Addiction
Addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Certainly, the first time an individual chooses to use any type of illegal drug, they are making a conscious choice. There are many reasons why an individual might choose to take part in drug use. They may simply be reacting to peer pressure or a sense of wanting to belong. They may find that once they have tried bath salts, or some other type of drug, that they feel better – more normal – while under the influence. It is important to realize that if this is the case, the teen may be suffering from an undiagnosed mental health condition that is temporarily eased by the drug use. Regardless of the reasons a teenager chooses to use drugs, they place themselves at risk for addiction every time they get high. Addiction develops when the body becomes dependent upon the drug, whether it is a psychological or physical dependence.
Once addiction has taken hold, the choice element of drug use may be lessened. The individual can make the choice to get help, but the drug abuse becomes a compulsion that is very difficult to ignore. According to the diagnostic protocols for substance dependence, individuals who suffer from the disease often choose to use drugs rather than attend school or meet family obligations, or they may disregard society’s laws by stealing or committing other crimes to obtain either the drugs they need or money to buy them.
Confronting Your Teen About Bath Salt Abuse
There are many signs and symptoms of drug abuse among teenagers. Many of the signs can be indicative of nothing more than teenage angst, but when several symptoms occur in cascading frequency or at the same time, it may be a good idea to confront your teenager about his possible bath salts abuse.
The signs to watch for include:
- Frequent school absences
- An unwillingness to bring “new” friends home
- Disregard for personal appearance or hygiene
- Mood swings that are out of character; excessive hyperactivity followed by depression
- Consistently borrowing of money with no explanation of how it is spent
Confronting your teen may seem like an overwhelming task for any parent. What if you’re wrong? What if your teen lashes out in a way that you can’t control? If you suspect that your teenager may be using bath salts or another type of drug that may cause him to be out of control, you may want to consider confronting him in a professional setting, such as with the help of a professional interventionist. The essential part is that you do something to help your child overcome what could be a serious drug addiction. Treatment is available that can help, and the sooner you are able to arrange for that treatment, the better your child’s future can become.
Drug Treatment Is Multifaceted to Meet All of the Teen’s Needs
Over the course of several decades, the National Institute on Drug Abuse has been researching a variety of topics concerning the abuse of drugs in the United States and around the world. In addition to discovering how drugs work and how the brain reacts to the introduction of drugs into the human body, they have established protocols for the most effective treatment of drug addiction. They have discovered, for instance, that drug treatment does not have to be voluntary to be effective. Individuals who are forced into drug treatment as a part of serving sentences in jails and prisons show marked improvement over those who did not receive treatment as part of their sentence.
The NIDA has also stated that one of the most effective measures for the treatment of drug abuse is to make certain that all of an individual’s needs are met. When it comes to teens who suffer from addiction, continuing their education would meet this requirement. Graduating from high school and even continuing education into college can create a better life for anyone, but a child who is a recovering addict will be stronger and suffer less stress if they are able to support themselves and a family without struggling. If they fail to graduate from high school, they may find themselves under more stress in their daily lives, thus increasing their chances for more frequent relapses.
Other aspects of a teen-specific treatment program may include:
- Gender-specific care that addresses the needs of boys and girls separately
- Age-appropriate counseling away from the influences of addicted adults who may be dealing with more “adult” issues
- Alternative and complementary therapies that are specific to the teen mindset
Counselors who are experienced and trained to relate to the attitudes of teens suffering from addiction
- More attention to the needs of the family as well as family-inclusive therapy practices
Muir Wood is dedicated to helping teens recover from drug abuse and addiction issues in a safe, nurturing environment that addresses each teen’s needs thoroughly and independently. Our experienced, compassionate staff is ready to help you help your child. Call us today for more information.
Molly Club Drug Abuse
There are a number of different drugs that fall into the category of “club drug” and one of the latest additions to the bunch is “Molly.” While the name may sound innocent, don’t let it deceive you; club drugs are far from harmless, and they have cost many young people their lives in recent years.
Typically used by teens and young adults at clubs, dance parties and other social events, Molly and other club drugs have been in steady use for decades. Different types include:
And Molly. This latest addition is exceedingly popular among teens. More and more teens are being initiated into the world of substance abuse when they use it.
If your son is abusing Molly or any other club drug, now is the time to act. Contact us at Muir Wood today to learn more about our gender-specific drug rehab program for teen boys.
Molly: A Particularly Deadly Club Drug
While all of the so-called “club drugs” listed above are dangerous and have the potential to be deadly, Molly is a newer drug has recently attracted attention due to the slew of deaths and injuries it has caused. A form of Ecstasy or MDMA, the drug is marketed as a “pure” drug as if it were safe for this reason, when in fact, there is nothing safe about its use. The fact is that most forms of Molly are laced with amphetamines and chemicals just like every other form of MDMA. What’s more, the substances that cut the purity of Molly are often dangerous themselves and can cause severe negative reactions or even death in some users.
How Widespread is Molly Abuse?
If you think that the chances of your teen encountering or being offered Molly are slim, think again. The National Drug Abuse Warning Network reports that, from 2004 to 2009 alone, there was a 123-percent spike in the number of emergency room visits related to the use of Ecstasy products. The risk for emergency room visits increased when teens used other drugs and/or alcohol in conjunction with Molly or other MDMA-containing drugs.
Drugs That Teens Combine With Molly
Because teenagers often take Molly in a social, party setting, it’s not uncommon for them to combine the use of the drug with other illicit substances. Some of the most common include:
- Prescription drugs
How Do Teens Abuse Molly?
Teens are most likely to come across Molly in a club or party setting. However, it is sadly not at all uncommon these days for teens to be offered drugs in their own neighborhoods, no matter how safe, or even at school.
Users can take Molly in several different ways. Most often, however, they simply take one or more Molly pills to experience the desired effects. These pills are often brightly colored in order to entice young users, but their effect is the complete opposite of their bright and cheerful appearance.
One of the biggest dangers associated with taking Molly in pill or any other form is that there is no possible way to know the exact amount of the drug in a given dose, what other drugs the dosage contains, and how these drugs might interact with one another.
As such, a person can use Molly once and have a fine experience but use it again in the same amount and suffer from an overdose. There is really no way for users to know what they are truly taking or in what amount, so the unexpected can and often does happen.
Risks Associated With Molly Use
As noted, teens who abuse Molly are often in an impaired state for several hours, and bad things can and often do happen in that time. In addition to the high risk of overdose and health problems, teens are also more likely to engage in risky, unprotected sexual activity, which can, in turn, lead to unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, and sexually transmitted infections.
Teens who abuse Molly are also at an increased risk for being the victims of sexual assault and physical assault. Furthermore, teens who choose to drive or operate machinery when using the drug are at an increased risk of accidents, injuries and death.
Teens will often make very bad decisions while they are under the influence of this potent drug, and unfortunately, they will have to live with those decisions and their consequences long after the drug has worn off. The effects of some of these choices may even be permanent.
Deadly Molly Combinations
When teens choose to buy or take Molly from a stranger or even from a trusted person whom they believe to be a friend, they have no real way of knowing what exactly they are taking. More often than not, Molly is not nearly as “pure” as it is purported to be. Some Molly pills contain relatively innocuous substances, such as aspirin and caffeine, designed to increase alertness while the drug’s effects are being experienced. Other concoctions, however, contain “bath salts,” a relatively new designer drug that can cause issues that include:
- Strange outbursts
It is also not at all uncommon to find batches of Molly that contain methamphetamine, cocaine, and various opiates. Plus, sometimes what a teen thinks is Molly may not actually contain any MDMA at all. In the best-case scenario, teens who experience such a situation will just waste their money on a concoction of ineffective over-the-counter drugs. In the worst cases, teens will inadvertently ingest a hardcore drug, such as heroin, and in some cases, may even become addicted to these much harder drugs.
Molly Addiction: Treatment Changes Lives
treatmentMolly is a drug just like any other, in spite of the fact that many teens view it as “harmless, safe and pure.” Like any drug, Molly can become additive, causing cravings, dependence, and even physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms.
If your teen is chronically abusing Molly, don’t listen to pleas or promises to stop. In fact, don’t hesitate at all; just focus on finding quality, professional help for your loved one. Even teens who are not yet physically addicted to the drug will often need assistance to choose treatment.
Here at Muir Wood, we cater to the needs of teen boys in crisis due to substance abuse, behavioral issues, and other problems that are derailing their futures. Through a comprehensive and well-rounded program, your son can get the directed help he needs to identify ongoing issues in his life, overcome drug and alcohol abuse, and learn more positive and healthy coping mechanisms for the future.
Download an admissions packet, or contact us at the phone number listed above now for more information.