Today's Drug Trends

Parents, isn't keeping up with all of the trendy teen things difficult enough? Learn more about today's drug trends and what red flags you should be looking out for. 

This blog was written by Taylor Dockter with The Forrester Center for Behavioral Health.

Due to changes in technology, today’s teens have unparalleled access to drugs and alcohol. Instead of walking up to a stranger in the gas station parking lot and asking if he/she will buy them alcohol, now teens can post anonymous requests online.  A simple internet search uncovers countless websites advertising unregulated “legal” versions of illegal drugs made of any number of dangerous chemicals. Anyone with a credit card can order them and have them delivered to their home in a plain package.  Equally as concerning, the media glorifies underage drinking and general substance use while downplaying risks. Sitcoms no longer discuss drugs using euphemisms. Instead, we have shows like Weeds, Breaking Bad, and Shameless, which communicate the message that substance use is normal and only unhealthy when done in excess.

Would your internal alarm go off if you read a text from your teen that said “Chemistry Club is meeting at 7:10 tonight. Could you message Steve to bring some Texas Tea? I need to catch some Zs tonight so I am not going to eat any skittles but I will bring enough for everyone. Also, can I borrow your Supra shoes for that concert this weekend?

Red flags: Chemistry Club, 710, Texas Tea, Zs, Skittles, Supras

Chemistry Club: Online communities of people creating and selling synthetic drugs based on online instructions. Allows for people to have an open discussion about ingredients or formulas in more public spaces under the guise that it is school-oriented.

710:  If you flip “710” over it spells OIL. Oil, wax, butter, kief, shatter, and earwax are just a few nicknames we also hear for marijuana concentrates. THC (the compound in marijuana that produces the “high”) used to appear in levels ranging from 5-8% just a few years ago. Today concentrates often surpass 70% THC and in some areas, the THC levels can be nearly 90%. Concentrates can be eaten, smoked, mixed with other drugs, or used to increase the potency of a traditional marijuana joint (“twaxed” joint).

Texas Tea: An easily purchased cold medicine, Promethazine with Codeine, is mixed with a clear soda like Sprite. The result goes by many names Texas Tea, Sippin’, Spittin, Lean, Purple Drank, Purp, or Syrup. The stacked styrofoam cups or “double cupping” is the universal symbol for this drink. It has a sedative effect and creates the experience of being detached from reality. Seizures and overdoses have been reported. The rapper who made the drink infamous, DJ Screw, passed away at 29 from a Lean overdose. Other well-known performers like Justin Bieber, Soulja Boy, Lil Wayne and Lil Boosie have publicly spoken about their misuse and abuse of this drug. 

Zs: Xanax ‘Bars’ may also go by Zanies, Planks, Z-Bars, or Zs. These pills or “Bars” are often split in half or into fourths. The resulting high is short-lived leading to the user often taking more to try and capture the high again. Xanax slows the central nervous system like alcohol. When misused, an overdose can lead to brain damage, coma, and even death. Sometimes Bars are crushed and snorted or smoked to try and create a more intense high experience.

Skittles: Smarties, diet coke, kiddie coke, r-ball, skittles, and Rids are also common names for Ritalin. Although available by prescription, it is a schedule II narcotic that when misused has a similar effect as “speed” or cocaine. Misuse can lead to aggression, psychosis, and when partnered with other drugs can lead to a fatal overdose.

Supra: Apertue, DGK, Seedless, Ipaths, and Supra are brands that promote drug culture and many provide hidden compartments in their clothing. Chips cans, hairspray, hairbrushes, alarm clocks, stuffed animals, and even sunblock dupes are sold on special websites with built-in hiding spots or fake bottoms.

The drug culture sells the message that drugs are normal, everyone uses them, and that willpower is all that is needed to prevent misuse or abuse. Impact Spartanburg is working hard to break down this message. The research supports that substance use during teen years has a negative effect on a teen’s developing brain. Most teens are not using drugs or alcohol on a regular basis, but teens often feel that everyone else is engaging in these activities.

Ready for some good news? Teens who report that a parent-figure strongly disapproves of substance use are less likely to report having tried that substance. Communicating support for a teen while clearly outlining expectations to remain substance-free helps teens know where you stand.  Here in Spartanburg among the youth that will try tobacco, alcohol, or marijuana more than half began using by age 13. It is never too early to start the conversation around substance use.

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