Adolescents today are finding the ability to alter or impair their normal functions through the use of drugs that are readily accessible to them in their own homes. Unfortunately, this is an all too common, overlooked and potentially deadly problem among youth, beginning at much younger ages than ever. Movies, social media, and the large media focus on general drug trade have showcased that the primary drugs affecting our youth are heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana. As the youth of our community realize the crackdown, negative stigma, health risks, and potential criminal ramifications of using these publicized drugs, they have begun to turn to “household” drugs that are more readily available, accepted, and legal to possess. However, they may not realize that the repercussions of using these drugs can be just as severe.
These household drugs are available to our teens by “huffing” gasoline or ingesting nutmeg, paints, nitrous oxide cylinders, cold medicines, and keyboard cleansers, to name a few. Many other drugs are readily available at their fingertips in the medicine cabinets of family and friends, through various prescriptions or over the counter medicines. Since abuse of these drugs is usually unknown, when the youth needs immediate medical attention due to an overdose or adverse reaction the responding emergency services struggle to determine the cause and source of the negative reaction the patient is experiencing. As a result, much needed immediate medical treatment is delayed.
The abuse of such drugs has become so accepted and available to anyone that our youth only has to inquire on the internet or watch a few YouTube videos to understand the experience that a particular substance at home might provide them. For instance, dextromethorphan (DXM) is found in many over the counter anti-tussive cold medications such as Robitussin and Coricidin Cough and Cold. Overuse of such medicines may cause effects commonly referred to as “Robo-Tripping,” and the street names for such accepted drugs are DXM, Skittles, or Triple C. Often youth believe since it is available without a prescription, the potential for harm is less, and it is labeled with a lesser stigma than the “heavy drugs”.
Inhalants essentially displace the oxygen within the lungs resulting in a virtual hallucinating effect. These drugs can cause brain damage, cause freezing injury both internal and external, as well as putting the user at risk of over expanding the internal organs too quickly. Death from suffocation can occur by replacing oxygen in the lungs with the chemical, and then in the central nervous system, so that breathing ceases.
I advise parents to be aware of physical, emotional, and mental changes and familiarize yourself with signs and symptoms that are not normal of your teen. Keep in mind that kids often use more than one substance, which can create varying effects that may not indicate one specific drug reaction or can create a synergistic affect.
You can help reduce the availability of household drugs to your teen by storing your medicine in a locked container or other unexpected locations. Take inventory of any risky items you may have in your garage and store them elsewhere as needed. Reach out to relatives and the parents of your teen’s friends and ask them to do the same. Talk with your teen about the negative effects of both household and street drugs, and partner with your teen to create a fun, drug-free environment at home for your teen and his / her friends.
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What other types of household drugs should parents know about, that weren’t mentioned in this article?
What solutions can you share with other parents regarding safeguarding these household drugs?
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LOS GATOS TEEN THERAPY CAN HELP!
Would you like additional guidance in this area? Los Gatos Teen Therapy provides individual teen therapy, family therapy, group therapy, parent support counseling, and in-home teen and family coaching 7 days a week, including afternoons, evenings, and weekends. For more information, contact us at 408.389.3538.