Frequently Asked Questions by Parents Regarding Youth Drug Use

The answers to these questions by local treatment specialists will be posted soon.

How Would YOU Respond?

1.  How do you tell the difference between normal teen “moods” or something more serious?

Drug use mood swings are consistant and out of character.  Most behavior changes occur when a person is under the influence or when a person is in withdrawal and can not get the drug.  A normal teen mood swing will usually not last a long period of time.

2a. Teens today argue that smoking marijuana is less harmful to the body than drinking alcohol.  What is the best way to refute this?

A teen's brain does not fully develop until the age of 25.  No matter if they believe that marijuana use is ok as an adult, it is never ok for a teen and can cause life long damage to brain development and emotional changes.  Alcohol and marijuana have different effects but are harmful in the same way.

2b. Some states have legalized recreational marijuana.  What do we say to our children about this?

Besides the fact that marijuana use does impact a teen's growing brain and has the potential to become a gateway drug to other substances,  the use of marijuana remains an illegal substance in the state of Pennsylvania.....period.

3.  What is the biggest problem at the high school level?

The current trends we are seeing across our high schools is alcohol, marijuana and pills.  The misuse of prescription drugs has become a very serious concern.  Teen's either misuse pills themselves or sell them to peers.  Prescription drugs that are most abused include Xanax(a sedative with a relaxing effect), Klonopin(a sedative effect), Oxycodone/Percocet(an opioid), Demerol, Codeine (Purple Drank: codeine cough syrup), Adderall (speed), Ritalin (a stimulant).

 Parents need to make sure that prescription medications are kept under their control and not placed in the hands of their teenager. Grandparents and other relatives must also take heed to lock up all precribed medications or disgard them.

4.  What is "Spice"?

Spice is synthetic marijuana originating from mainland China.  It is made from a variety of herbal mixtures that produce experiences similar to marijuana.  They are marketed as an incense "not for human consumption".

Spice is sold under many names including K2, fake weed, Yucatan Fire, Skunk and Moon Rocks.  For several years, spice products could easily be purchased in convenience stores, gas stations, head shops and truck stops.  The Drug Enforcement Administration however has designated the substances found in Spice products as a Schedule 1 controlled substance making it illegal to sell, buy or possess them.

Spice products are most abused second to marijuana in high school students.  Parents should be aware that despite the ban on selling these products in stores, they continue to be marketed and purchased through various websites or illegal dealers.

5.  What are some “red flags” to be aware of?

Parents should be alerted to a change in their teen's behavior, change in friends, loss of interest in activities and hobbies and missing money and/or items from home such as electronics.

Be suspicious of "lost items" or "stolen items" that your teen might tell you happened to their belongings.

6. What are "Bath Salts"?

Bath Salts contain chemicals found in plant food.  They are NOT the bath salts used for hygenic purposes.  Although they are marketed "not for human consumption", bath salts can be snorted or smoked causing sypmtoms similar to what is seen by methamphetamine users.  Symptoms might include hallucinations, paranoia, violent behavior, perfuse sweating and severely itchy skin.

7. How do teen's first encounter Heroin?

Due to the fact that the Heroin on the market today is very pure, it can be smoked or snorted.  Marijuana laced with Heroin can be unsuspecting to a teen attending a party where there is alcohol, marijuana or pills.  In addition, decreased inhibitions resulting from alcohol use makes it easier for a teen to experiment with other substances they might be offered.