Every new survey on substance use among American teens highlights new concerns, validates certain expectations and also provides optimism. Findings of the 2017 Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey, released on Dec. 14, 2017, followed a similar pattern when it revealed that among teens, marijuana is the most popular drug of abuse followed by K2 or Spice. The annual survey, conducted by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, also showed that opioid misuse is at an all-time low.
Key trends of the survey, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), highlighted substance use trends among nearly 45,000 students in grades 8, 10 and 12, showed that:
The survey also recorded a significant increase in the use of inhalants among 8th grade students – life-time use increased from 1.2 percent to 8.9 percent, while past-year use increased from 0.9 percent to 4.7 percent. The downward trend in binge drinking among all three grades appeared to have slowed down, even though it remained well below the levels recorded a decade ago.
K2/Spice second most popular illegal drug among teens
According to the NIDA, K2/Spice has become the second most popular illegal drug among American teens, after marijuana. The popularity is particularly high among teen boys. Although the drug is marketed as a natural and safe alternative to marijuana, it can have a dangerous, and sometimes life-threatening, effect. Thousands of teens and young adults, mostly young men, have been admitted to emergency rooms with severe symptoms like racing heartbeat, hallucinations, seizures, vomiting or elevated blood pressure.
A recent research published in the journal Pediatrics showed that 9.4 percent students from grades 9 to 12 had ever used synthetic marijuana in 2015. Such teens had a higher likelihood of being injured, engaging in violent behaviors, becoming victims of physical/sexual assault or engaging in risky sex, compared to those who used only marijuana. Students using fake pot were also more likely to have an early onset of marijuana use (before the age of 13), compared with students using only marijuana.
Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, compared teen synthetic marijuana use to “a game of Russian roulette.” He warned that since fake pot was sprayed with harmful chemicals or even pesticides, it could lead to unpredictable, and sometimes lethal, consequences. “In addition, there is heightened risk for seizures associated with the use of synthetic cannabinoids, which can lead to airway obstruction, coma and death,” said Glatter.
Prevention programs must address use of synthetic drugs
Prevention programs must focus on reducing youngsters’ initiation into synthetic drugs. There are concerns that schools do not adequately screen adolescent students for all substances, particularly synthetic drugs. Teens are often drawn to such drugs due to their easy availability, lower cost and relatively lower chances of detection. Parents should monitor their children for obvious symptoms and contact a health care professional in case they exhibit symptoms like paranoia, aggression or agitation.
Sovereign Health understands the plight of teenagers suffering from addiction to illicit drugs, including teen spice addiction. Our Rancho San Diego facility provides a host of necessary treatment procedures and behavioral therapies for youngsters. To know more, call at our 24/7 helpline or chat online with our representatives for expert advice about teen spice addiction treatment.