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Stacie Allphin

The Top 10 Teen Drug Epidemics Webinar

View the Top 10 Teen Drug Epidemics webinar and find out what teens know about these addictive substances, how they’re getting them and what you can do to stop them.

The webinar is led by Stacie Allphin, M.S., LCDC, NCAC, Memorial Hermann Prevention and Recovery Center’s Director of Adolescent Services. A Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor, and a National Certified Addictions Counselor, Stacie has been in the addictions field since 1999.

What is an Epidemic?

The word epidemic means that it's a widespread occurrence of infectious disease in a community at any particular time. In 2012 the Center for Disease Control announced that prescription drug addiction had reached epidemic proportions. In 2010 the Office of National Drug Control Policy reported that 47 and 1/2 percent of all college students had smoked marijuana. These are just some examples of what an epidemic is.

In this webinar, we are going to review the top 10 drug epidemics of teen addiction. We'll be covering the most deceptively innocent drug, the easiest to get, the most difficult to overcome, the most popular, most destructive, most dramatic transformation, the fastest growing, the latest trend, the most unknown, and the cheapest.

Deceptively Innocent - Synthetic Marijuana

K2Synthetic marijuana was initially created using a chemical compound found in marijuana. However, over time distributors began using random chemicals on potpourri-like substances and marketing it as incense. 

Synthetic MarijuanaSince its inception synthetic marijuana has fast become the drug of choice for adolescent drug users,second only to marijuana. One of the reasons for the popularity is because it is undetectable in average drug tests. 

Typically the drug is packaged in small square pouches, and it looks like a common kitchen spice, such as oregano. It's often referred to as spice, K2, fake weed, or any other variety of fad names.

How is it used?

Synthetic marijuana is used in a similar manner as marijuana. It's either smoked alone or added to a rolled joint with tobacco or marijuana. It can also be baked into food such as brownies, or made into a tea, although this is a less likely route of administration.

Marijuana Side Effects

The effects of synthetic marijuana are highly unpredictable, and are different for each person - and with each type of synthetic marijuana. Some of the long term side effects include seizure, kidney damage, lung damage, brain damage, and even death.

The Emily Bauer Story - A Life Forever Changed

Emily Bauer StoryThis is Emily Bauer. She's a 17-year-old girl from Cypress, Texas. Many of you have probably heard this story that aired right before Christmas 2012.Emily was using fake marijuana that she bought at a local gas station. She asked her boyfriend to take her home because she had a headache. Turns out she wasn't having a headache - she was having a series of strokes. 

"I had five strokes on December 7, 2012 from smoking synthetic marijuana. It was just a few days away from my 17th birthday. It has impacted my life in multiple ways. I cannot do things a normal 18-year-old would do, including walking, reading, writing, or driving. I bought it over the counter at a gas stations, so I thought it was safe and legal. This is a quote from Emily's Facebook page posted this past October 31, 2014. " 

As a result of her situation Emily and her parents founded SAFE: Synthetic Awareness For Emily. You can go to her Facebook page to learn more about Emily's story. 

Connor Eckhardt - A Life Forever Lost

Connor Eckhardt

Another recent case happened in July of 2014. A 19-year-old California teen smoking synthetic marijuana for the very first time. Five days later, he died.

Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act

In 2010 over 11,000 people visited emergency rooms after using synthetic marijuana. 59% of them had used no other drugs.

On October 8, 2014, two years after President Obama signed the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act, Houston and Harris County passed a law making synthetic marijuana an illegal substance to sell, possess, or use.

Robotripping

robotripping trioOne of the easiest drugs to get is associated with common over the counter cold medications. Teens call it robotripping. A study in 2011 found that 5% of high school students are actually abusing cough medications. You may hear a teen speaking about these as dex, robo, skittles, triple C, or poor man's PCP. Robotripping is taking medications containing DXM, or dextromethorphan, in large quantities for the purpose of getting high or experiencing hallucinations. The most common source of DXM is cough and cold medications that contain DXM.

Some common five effects of robotripping include feelings of dizziness, lightheadedness, stomach upset, nausea or vomiting, restlessness, and sometimes drowsiness.

The severity of the side effects can vary depending on how much is used. Many adolescents consume at least 30 pills at a time just to get the desired effect. 

When using cough medicines, the teens are not focusing on the alcohol, but rather on the DXM. More than 125 cough and cold medications contain dextromethorphan.

This abuse of over the counter cough and cold medications is a growing and potentially life threatening trend among kids ranging in age from as young as 9 years old to 17. In fact, nearly 10% of American teens have admitted to getting high on medications containing DXM.

The Most Difficult Drug to Overcome - Methamphetamines

Methamphetamine is so addictive that scientists giving lab animals unlimited access to meth will actually take it uncontrollably until death occurs. Some experts estimate that 90% of people who try meth even one time become addicted.

Common side effects

Dilated pupils, rapid speech, insomnia, changes in weight, restlessness, mood swings, sweating, acne, and extreme paranoia.

How is it used?

Typically methamphetamine is taken orally. It can be injected, snorted, or smoked.

The Angela Fatino Story

These are yearbook photos taken of a young girl named Angela Fatino. On the left you can see her at age 12. On the right at age 15. Angela began using methamphetamine, and within three short years died from her addiction.Angela Fatino

The Most Popular Drug - Marijuana

MarijuanaMarijuana is one of the most common illicit drugs used in the United States. California has been working toward legalization for recreational use and hopes to reach its goal by 2016. Despite a steady stream of state laws approving marijuana for medical and sometimes recreational use, the drug is still illegal under federal law.

The federal government considers marijuana a schedule one substance, meaning it has no medicinal uses and is at a high risk for abuse. 

In 2013 7% of eighth graders and 18% of 10th graders,in 22% of 12th graders used marijuana within the past month, which is an increase from 5.8%, 13.8%, and 19.4% in 2008. The amount of THC, the chemical in marijuana that makes you feel high, has been steadily increasing over the past few decades. In the 1960s the THC content was around 2%. In the 1980s, 4%. In 2012, 15%-- almost triple. 

Marijuana is typically smoked, however it can be added to baked goods.

Marijuana and the Brain

So when you look at this slide in the middle, you see a normal, healthy brain. On either side you see what the brain looks like from a 38-year-old who has been using marijuana very heavily on weekends for 17 years.

Marijuana Effects in the Brain

The Most Destructive Drug - Krokodil

It's estimated that somewhere between a few hundred thousand and a million people are injecting this deadly drug. Krokodil gets its name from the green, scaly, and bumpy skin that users get at the injection site. 

The scientific name for Krokodil is Desomorphine, and it is in the opioid family. 

Ingredients used to make Krokodil include iodine, paint thinner, gasoline, alcohol, and oil. 

The Krokodil high has a very fast onset but a very short duration, and it is more potent than morphine. Krokodil is injected, and it can cause abscesses, gangrene, and thrombophlebitis, which is when a blood clot develops in the veins, and can lead to death. 

Most users of Krokodil only live two or three years and suffer from rotting body parts. Users will inject the drug anywhere in their body, from their feet to their forehead. 

The prognosis for recovery from this drug is poor, and the few who do recover are left with permanent physical and emotional damage.

The Most Dramatic Transformation - Xanax

XanaxXanax can be found in medicine cabinets across the country.  It is the most commonly prescribed psychiatric medication, and the 13th highest selling medication in 2012. Not surprisingly, the number of emergency department visits related to Xanax abuse climbed from more than 57,000 in 2005 to nearly 124,000 in 2011. 

The easy access to acquiring Xanax has made the drug popular with teens and young adults, however there are serious side effects, including overdose, toxic reactions, respiratory depression, hypertension, seizures, cardiovascular collapse, and even death. 

Teens and young adults who use Xanax to get high often combine it with alcohol, and this can be fatal combination since both benzodiazepines and alcohol are a central nervous system depressant.

The Fastest Growing - Heroin

HeroinBetween 1995 and 2002, the number of teenagers in America ages 12 to 17 who used heroin at some point in their lives increased by 300%. Heroin abuse among first time users has increased by nearly 60% in the last decade. 

Adolescents report sniffing heroin, smoking it, thinking it's going to be less addictive. However, it only takes three days of consistent use, regardless as to how it's used, to become addicted. 

Most heroin users inject heroin. 

Heroin typically has additives such as caffeine, flour, chalk, talcum powder, and powdered milk. These ingredients do not dissolve fully when they're injected into the body and can cause blood clots that lead to lung, kidney, and brain problems.

The Latest Trend - Tramadol

TramadolTramadol is not an opioid, but it is considered to be opioid-like because it affects the brain in the same manner that an opioid would. It's also extremely addictive, like an opioid.

Many adolescents use prescription drugs found in their home medicine cabinets. Often family members have left over medication from surgeries, dental work, or some other illness that they no longer need. Tramadol and other prescription drugs like OxyContin and Vicodin can easily be found in home medicine cabinets where teenagers are looking for drugs to use to get a high. 

Some of the side effects from taking Tramadol is nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, and headaches. Seizures from Tramadol are reported to occur at least once in about 87% of persons prescribed to Tramadol. The likelihood of seizure increases with the dosage. People abusing Tramadol are at a higher risk of experiencing a seizure.

Fortunately, on August 18 of 2014,the DEA placed Tramadol on a Schedule IV of the Controlled Substance Act.

The Most Unknown Drug to Parents - Molly

So why is Molly an epidemic? If you look at this chart, you'll see that Molly use with 8th, 10th, and 12th graders has increased over the past year, and it continues to rise.

Molly Chart

Molly is a synthetic psychoactive drug that has similarities to both stimulant amphetamine and hallucinogen mescaline. The drug is popular with teens and young adults, and is often used at parties called raves. 

Molly creates feelings of increased energy, euphoria, emotional warmth, and empathy towards others. It also distorts sensory and time perception. However, once the drug begins to wear off, people report experiencing agitation and aggression. They get shaky and restless. 

Often the person's pupils are dilated, and they remain dilated even in really bright lights. Seizures are extremely common in overdoses of Molly, and they can occur rapidly and are usually manifested by changes in consciousness, emotion, vision, and skin sensations.

This is a picture of Jessica Mary Hunter. She's a 21-year-old college student at Texas State University. She used Molly one time while attending a musical festival in Austin. She never used it before, and within just a few hours she suffered a seizure and cardiac arrest. Two days later she was dead.

Jessica Hunter

The Cheapest Drug - Inhalants

InhalantsAccording to inhalant.org,one in five students has inhaled a chemical to get high by the time they are in eighth grade. 

There are a thousand common household products that can be used for intoxicating purposes. Parents of younger children should be aware of the household aerosols in their cleaning cabinet. Often young teens curious about getting high will first try huffing or inhaling aerosols. 

Aria Doherty was a 14-year-old who was found dead after taping her nostrils closed and huffing a can of computer air duster. Another similar story was Crystal Salcedo, a 12-year-old girl who died shortly after huffing freon, and Stedman Gage, a 22-year-old man, died from huffing air duster. The list goes on and on. 

The one common theme? No one in their families knew that they were huffing.

Do you know a teen who needs help?

Here's a list of resources. You can try:

Levels of Care

So there are several levels of care for adolescents who need assistance. They might need medical detoxification, a 30 day inpatient program, a partial program, or an intensive outpatient program.

Spread awareness throughout your community. Share this with other parents of teens. Addiction ruins lives and can be prevented.