Gummi Bears and Dragonfly: A New Wave of Teen Drug Abuse

Just when you thought the teen drug scene couldn’t get any stranger, news reports boggle parents’ minds with new ways teens are getting high. In Detroit, teens are reportedly getting drunk on “boozy bears” – gummi bears, worms and other gelatin-packed creatures that look harmless to parents, teachers and law enforcement, but have soaked in vodka overnight. The candy absorbs the vodka, a colorless and relatively odorless favorite among teens, and can get teens drunk with just a few handfuls. Officials are concerned about the trend, noting that:

  • Teens can’t be sure of how much alcohol they’re consuming.
  • Concerned adults have to taste the candy to determine whether it’s laced with alcohol, allowing this form of teen substance abuse to go largely undetected.
  • Because the taste of alcohol is overshadowed by the sugary candy, teens may consume a large amount in a short period of time without realizing the full effect of the alcohol.
  • Teens are finding information and how-to videos online (some with over 10,000 views), giving the problem an even broader reach.

Drunk gummy bears aren’t the only worrisome drug trend. Another growing teen drug problem, first reported in Idaho and Wyoming, is called Dragonfly (the street name for 4-ethyl-2,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine, or 2C-E). Also known as Europa, the drug is a synthetic hallucinogen that has similar effects as LSD, including mild hallucinations, increased body temperature and synesthesia (sight mingling with taste, sound and touch). Dragonfly comes in powder form, often contained in unmarked blue or white capsules. The effects begin within an hour if taken orally and within minutes if snorted and last six to 12 hours. Like bath salts and other synthetic drugs, the drug has not yet been regulated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and teens are purchasing it legally online. It has sent four teens to the emergency room so far this year. Wherever you are in the country, it is likely that your teen has heard of Dragonfly and drunk gummi bears. Now that you know of the risks, it’s up to you to talk to your teen, make your rules and expectations clear, and offer your teen the support they need to avoid or to treat this new wave of teen drug abuse.

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