Wellness Youth and Substance Use: Old Drugs and New Drugs Converge

BY Dr. Ralph E. Jones

“Addys,” “Bliss,” “Yayo,” “Roho,” “Cristy,” “Molly,” “Scag,” “Special K,” “Lucy, “Weed,” “Oxy,” “K2,” and “Vics”… our youth today are peppered with so many chemical substances of use that it is really quite difficult to keep up with them.

As we are now in a new school year, our youth are to be challenged with the introduction and continuation by many, to many varieties of drugs.

Chemical used substances are killing our youth by the thousands, while thousands more are becoming addicted to the substances…an alarming rate, and adding to the existing drug crisis that we have in our Nation. What are the current major substances of use among our youth? What do parents, educators, and others who tend to your youth need to know (and much more important to understand and take action) about drugs?

Humans throughout time in memorial have consumed substances … to feel down, to feel up, and even to escape into an alternate world of sensation. Although there is little doubt that the extraction of chemical variants and inventions of chemical substances in the labo­­ratory setting have been most beneficial for mankind; in curing and treating physical diseases, in stabilizing the person with mental illness, etc.; it is also a fact that many of these chemical substances have been abused by many.

We are most assuredly a drug use, and addicted society; with an ever changing drug culture.

The major drug of choice for today’s youth (which is usually given age 25 and under) is Cannabis Sativa (Marijuana).

There is no doubt that the primary reason for the use of Marijuana surpassing alcohol as a drug of choice is due to those 12 States that have since passed legislation for the recreational use of Marijuana, in disregard of federal laws; passage of such legislation to help pay for the education, physical and mental health treatment, and a myriad of social programs that have overwhelmed those States; due primarily by the influx of those individuals whom have entered our Nation illegally. With the passage, comes new means of cultivation of the Cannabis plant, and subsequently an increase in the strength of the psychoactive chemical in Marijuana, Tetra Hydra Canabinol (THC). Marijuana is smoked and eaten in “edibles,” and is readily available to any “Adult” for purchase in those States where available, although we know that there are many underage youth are also consuming the drug at an alarming rate. I have often heard youth of our community state, “If Marijuana is bad why I can smoke marijuana in California, then why can’t I smoke it here in Texas?”

The primary answer being that it is illegal here in Texas (do you think that Texans must have more intelligence that those living in the previously mentioned States?). Many myths and misconceptions surround Marijuana; the primary myth being it is not addictive. My professional colleagues and I can readily attest to the fact that it can become addictive, and that it can lead to more intense drug use of more potent substances, such as Heroin.

The drug “Spice” is another substance we should pay attention to, as the use of this synthetic Marijuana is also on the rise. Spice is made up of a number of different chemical substances. This substance, an unnatural designer drug, can cause a myriad of dangerous adverse reactions, to include seizures and tremors, vomiting, high blood pressure, terrible headaches, hallucinations’ and paranoia, acute kidney damage, and other symptoms; and most importantly can cause unconsciousness and coma, and even death.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, its use has increased dramatically over the past few years, and does not show any signs of slowing down. This drug substance was once regularly prescribe by physicians in the form of as transdermal patch in lozenges form, provides a much more increased “High” than Heroin, up to 100 times more potent.

Fentanyl has been cause of many thousands of overdose, deaths, in our Nation. Alcohol still remains a drug of choice among our youth, and has developed from not only drinking it but inhaling it as well. Youth have learned that by inhaling alcohol that they get an instant sensation of intoxication; and the brain has no way of expelling it.

When alcohol is ingested by drinking it, the body has more time to process it, but when it’s inhaled everything happens rapidly. The purposeful inhalation of toxic substances is not really new, it began in the 1960’s and continues to this day. “Huffing” among teens is still popular among early teen’s as it’s easy for the teenagers to get their hands on household products that will get them high; and according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, 3.8% of eighth graders have engaged in the practice. Huffing is a dangerous practice, as it causes death due to asphyxiation, heart failure, kidney and liver damage, brain damage; and a host of other physical and mental problems. Some of the products huffers inhale are spray paint, computer cleaning fluid, felt-tip markers, whipped cream aerosol cans, etc.

In addition to the aforementioned substances of use, there are a myriad of other chemicals that are ingested by youth; from prescription medication of their parents/caregivers to clandestine pills such as methamphetamines. As parents, other caretakers, school teachers, and other adults must be ever on the alert and be most proactive, learning everything they can about substances of use/abuse; and not to late if or when the youth begins experimenting with a drug. I urge you to study the slang language used by our youth in regards to drugs, and to go to the web sites of National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) to learn more.

Our youth need to be taught about substance use at a very early age, commensurate with their level of understanding. And, above all, they need to be taught the virtues of being good and doing good. Until Next Time, Stay Healthy My Friends!