NOTE: While this may be somewhat “hype” it is still worth mentioning for parents to monitor and be aware of changes in their tweens and teens… This is offered for Parent Awareness, because drug and alcohol use is often involved in teen sexual activity.
Parents, lock up your kitchen cabinets and your home office: Teens are experimenting with bizarre and dangerous substances like computer cleaners right at home.
When we think about teen substance abuse, our minds veer to dad’s liquor cabinet or illegal drugs. But teens are increasingly turning to home offices and kitchen pantries to chase a high.
One recent trend is called “dusting” — inhaling the fumes from computer cleaning supplies to get high.
And YouTube videos and blogs are popularizing the use of everyday items you might use to make dessert, including nutmeg and vanilla extract, for mind-altering purposes.
Read on to learn more about “dusting” and some of the other ways teens are using common household items to get high.
‘Dusting’: Inhaling Computer-Cleaning Product
Computer-cleaning products might seem innocent, but a growing number of teenagers are using them for the chemicals’ mind-altering effects. Inhalant abuse has been around years — often referred to as “huffing” — but the term “dusting” is used to describe the use of cans of any aerosolized computer keyboard cleaner that has compressed gas inside. You can get a high from putting the straw from the can into your mouth and inhaling as they spray the contents.
Breathable chemicals like aerosols, gases or solvents can produce a loss of sensation and even unconsciousness, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
Irreversible side effects include hearing loss, limb spasms, bone or brain damage, heart failure, suffocation, and even death.
In addition, the freon inside the spray cans pushes oxygen out of the lungs and can cause a mini stroke or heart attack.
A 2010 study by NIDA by shows 8th-graders are the biggest abusers of common household cleaners, which includes computer cleaners.
Drinking Cough Syrup
These cheap, accessible over-the-counter meds have become go-to recreational drugs for teenagers, who refer to the high they induce as “robotripping.” Cough syrup contains dextromethorphan, or DXM, which can make users euphoric and induce hallucinations.
In high enough doses, it can also cause death.
Because of its widespread abuse by teenagers, the FDA considered requiring products like Robitussin and Nyquil to be sold by prescription, but ultimately decided against the proposal in 2010.
Playing the Choking Game
In search of a few seconds of euphoria, many kids play the choking game, which involves choking or strangling, manually or with a rope or belt or string, to the point of almost passing out. Some kids choke their friends or hold plastic bags over a friend’s or their own heads, in an effort to achieve a “rush” or feel high.
A January survey of 837 Texas university students by the Crime Victims’ Institute at Sam Houston State University found that 16 percent of them had played the game. On average, most of them had played the first time when they were 14, and many had played it more than once.
The risks of oxygen deprivation from choking include brain damage and death.
Isaiah Mitchell, 9, died while trying the choking game in McCordsville, Ind., in 2006.
Imbibing Hand Sanitizer for Alcohol
Locking up the liquor cabinet used to be enough to keep kids sober, but Helen Arbogast, injury prevention coordinator in the trauma program at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, told Los Angeles Times readers to watch their kids’ use of hand sanitizer. It’s just the latest of a list of items, like mouthwash and vanilla extract, that teenagers have imbibed for a buzz. Teens have shown up in hospital rooms across the country after ingesting hand sanitizer, either straight out of the squeeze bottle or after using salt to separate the alcohol from the sanitizing agent.
Arbogast suggested parents buy foam hand sanitizers, which are harder to extract alcohol form.
Soaking Gummy Bears in Vodka
While teen drinking isn’t new, there are new ways teens sneak booze into school. According to news reports, one of these is vodka-soaked gummy bears. The benign-looking candy that kids pass around during lunchtime could be hiding the taste of strong liquor.
The risk is that teens have no clue how much alcohol they’re consuming.
Getting High on Nutmeg
A spice we usually associate with holiday parties also causes another kind of buzz. Nutmeg contains a psychoactive chemical called myristicin, which has a chemical structure similar to that of mescaline, amphetamine and Ecstasy. It’s known for causing hallucinations, including a floating sensation. YouTube videos capture people in euphoric states after consuming a whole grated nutmeg or more, and poison centers around the country have released warnings to parents about the abuses of the common spice.
The Cinnamon Challenge
You may have seen YouTube clips showing the cinnamon challenge. A person attempts to swallow a tablespoon of cinnamon without water, and spitting, gagging and coughing ensue. While not a drug, the American Association of Poison Control Center’s National Poison Data System has told parents to discuss the risks of the so-called challenge with children, after receiving an increased number of calls about kids needing medical evaluations because of the challenge.
Dr. Russell Migita, clinical director of Emergency Services at Seattle Children’s Hospital, told “Today” that the cinnamon could cause inflammation in the lungs, or in extreme cases, a collapsed lung from an extreme coughing fit.