Teen Use of Synthetic Marijuana Increasing

Young people often seem determined to try exactly what parents and other adults say they shouldn’t.  This is partly an issue of testing of whether parental and adult boundaries are trustworthy. Young children accept adult warnings as true, but teenagers are ready to question them. When it comes to dabbling in mind-altering substances, however, adolescent experimentation can be a serious and life-altering decision. The new wave of man-made drugs such as synthetic marijuana are particularly problematic. University of Maryland research finds that teens are turning toward synthetic drugs, especially synthetic marijuana, at a rate that exceeds many other problem substances. According to the researchers, 57 percent of high school kids drink alcohol, 39 percent smoke marijuana and 12 percent have used synthetic marijuana; known by various names, including Spice and K2. What should be concerning to parents is that synthetic marijuana use has grown to a problem more prevalent than prescription drugs, over-the-counter (OTC) drugs or street drugs like cocaine or meth. Synthetic marijuana is manufactured by coating plant material with a man-made substance that tickles the same brain receptors as those which light up with THC (the psychoactive ingredient in natural marijuana). The problem is that there are no controls over what is used or the quantity of the man-made substance used from batch to batch. What this means is that one time a small amount may be sufficient to create the desired effects, but the next time kids might get a batch with significantly more chemicals that could cause a more severe reaction. Synthetic marijuana reactions can include increased blood pressure and heartbeat, feelings of agitation, heightened anxiety, even kidney damage. Kids who think that synthetic marijuana is safer than natural marijuana really have no idea what they are taking or the potential side effects. Due to these serious risks, it’s important for teens abusing synthetic marijuana to seek treatment right away.

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