Muir Wood therapist, David Laing

Synthetic Drugs in the Top 3 Drugs of Choice Among Teens

The Center for Substance Abuse Research at the University of Maryland at College Park recently released a report on the attitudes and practices of teenagers in the United States when it comes to drug and alcohol use. They reported that the top three substances of choice among teens include:

  1. Alcohol: About 57 percent of teens said they preferred drinking.
  2. Marijuana: About 39 percent of teens surveyed said they smoked marijuana more often than using other substances.
  3. Synthetic substances: About 12 percent of kids said they used synthetic drugs regularly.

Synthetic drugs? Many parents may be confused by that term. It is a relatively new problem. The term refers a group of substances that have been created on the black market to emulate the effects of marijuana and hallucinogenic substances. Unfortunately, these drugs are exceedingly dangerous, and law enforcement is having a difficult time keeping up.

Synthetic Drugs

According to the report, “In reality, youth who report using synthetic marijuana likely have no idea what specific synthetic cannabinoid they are using or what the effects will be.”

It’s true, but it’s not just a problem for teens. Chemists who create the drug are constantly changing the chemical makeup in order to stay one step ahead of the law. Even though drugs outlawing the active chemicals in synthetic drugs are updated regularly, it’s impossible to stay ahead of the new formulations that are constantly hitting the streets. This has resulted in a mix of legal and illegal synthetic drugs on the shelves of corner stores, gas stations, truck stops, and online.

But the fact is, legal or not, synthetic drugs are exceedingly dangerous and have been reported to be the cause of a number of problems including:

  • Increased poison control calls
  • Increased visits to the emergency room
  • Serious acute injury
  • Attack and assault
  • Erratic and dangerous behavior
  • Suicide
  • Homicide

Is Your Teen Abusing Synthetic Drugs?

Because parents are not familiar with synthetic drugs, they are often unsure how to identify use of the substance in their child. Some red flags include:

  • Finding packages marked “incense” or “potpourri” in your son’s belongings.
  • Erratic behavior that suggests a disconnect from reality
  • Taking dangerous chances carelessly
  • Using coded language with friends, such as referring to “bath salts”
  • Unmarked packages arriving for your son in the mail

If you believe that your son is abusing synthetic drugs, drinking or smoking marijuana, we can assist you in addressing the situation proactively. Call us at Muir Wood today for more information.