Guest Blog Series: Making Your Home Drug-Free
Five Surprising Drugs That Are Accessible to Your Teen
If you’re the parent of a teenager, chances are you’ve considered how to broach the subject of drug and alcohol abuse with your child. Thanks to initiatives such as the National Institute on Drug Abuse and DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), awareness surrounding adolescent drug use is at an all-time high.
But while most parents think to talk to their children about the inherent dangers and legal pitfalls of marijuana or cocaine, many don’t know that teens are able to find recreational drugs right at home.
Go beyond locking the liquor cabinet. The five following household items are abused as drugs on a daily basis:
Almost nothing seems as innocuous as a can of Reddi-Wip. But in addition to being a perfect ice-cream confection, whipped cream cans are abused regularly as an inhalant. The propellant used to “whip” a can of whipped cream is nitrous oxide, the same substance given by dentists, known as “laughing gas.”
But unlike the dentist’s office, users of whippets do not carefully ensure that the correct ratio of NOS and oxygen are used. Instead, they inhale the gas straight from the can by keeping the whipped cream can right-side-up. This results in oxygen-deprivation to the brain, which can cause users to pass out, potentially injuring themselves as they fall. It’s also been linked to permanent brain damage.
2.) Prescription Medications
Most adults realize that there are potential dangers within the medicine cabinet: prescription medications, such as codeine and oxycodone, provide a potential high for thrillseekers willing to abuse prescriptions.
However, many parents neglect the fact that many medications prescribed to teenagers also hold potential for abuse. Anti-anxiety medications, such as Xanax, and medicines prescribed for Attention Deficit Disorder, such as Adderall, are commonly abused by teens. Even if your adolescents aren’t abusing their scripts, their peers may pressure them to give or sell these medications to others.
Experts now suggest locking away medications with potential for abuse, either in a safe or lock box, and out of reach of children or teens who could abuse them.
3.) Over-the-Counter Medications
Equally dangerous are certain medications that are available over-the-counter. Chemicals such as Dextromethorphan (DXM) in Robitussin cough syrup, Dramamine, and even Benadryl are abused for their hallucinogenic effects. Users of these medications commonly take five to ten times the suggested dose, and fatalities have occurred as a result.
A comprehensive list of medicines that hold potential for abuse can be found at https://www.drugabuse.gov/
4.) Morning Glory Seeds
Morning Glories are perennial vining flowers that many gardeners enjoy as a pretty embellishment to chain-link fences or lattices. Despite the fact that the seeds are available at many gardening and grocery stores, they also contain a chemical known as “ergine,” which is similar in effect to the drug LSD. Side effects associated with swallowing Morning Glory seeds include nausea, vomiting, hallucinations, and impaired judgement.
Nutmeg is a spice known for its earthy, nutty taste. The spice is also used recreationally to induce a hallucinogenic state. Regular doses, such as what you might enjoy in a slice of pumpkin pie, won’t do any damage, but abusers of nutmeg consume large quantities of the powdered spice. Abusers of nutmeg grind the whole nutmeg seed to a powder and swallow the dust by the spoonful. In such large amounts, the drug can cause vomiting, asphyxiation, and paranoia. Fatalities have also occurred from teenagers overdosing on nutmeg.
So, what can be done?
As always, the first line of defense when it comes to adolescent drug use is communication. Open, honest conversations with your children about the dangers of drugs—even those found within the home—is vital to their safety and well-being.
Taking small steps, such as securing medications in lock-boxes and safely disposing of scripts once the assigned dosages is complete, can go a long way in preventing prescription medication abuse. The FDA has compiled a comprehensive list of ways to dispose of medications properly. You can access that list at this link.
By keeping an eye on the dangers present within your own four walls, and keeping open lines of communication with your teen, you can do your part to ensure your home is a safe, drug-free place.
Daniel R. Jones is Tomo Drug Testing’s Indiana Office Manager. He has been with the company for a year and a half. Originally from Kalamazoo, Michigan, Daniel now resides in Indianapolis with his wife and two sons. He received his Undergraduate degree in Communications (with a focus in Journalism) from Bethel College in Mishawaka, Indiana. Currently, he’s attending classes towards the completion of a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Writing from Lindenwood University.