In troubling news out of Tennessee, two teenage boys have died after consuming a concoction of Mountain Dew and racing fuel known as \u201cdewshine,\u201d while two other youths got sick after ingesting the poisonous substance. The homemade cocktail is being used by teens to get drunk quickly and on the cheap, but contains methanol, which can lead to blindness and death. A form of alcohol intended for industrial and automotive uses, methanol is highly dangerous. Just 2\u00a0to\u00a08\u00a0ounces can be deadly for adults, while a child can be killed by 2 tablespoons, according to the National\u00a0Institutes of Health. These are the first known cases of dewshine poisoning in Tennessee, but health officials in Georgia are expressing concern that youths there may also try the drink. \u201cJust because we haven\u2019t gotten [reports] about it\u00a0doesn\u2019t mean the phenomenon isn\u2019t going on down here,\u201d Dr. Gaylord Lopez, director of Atlanta\u2019s Poison Control Center, told cbs46 in Atlanta. Officials say they aren\u2019t sure how widespread the practice of abusing methanol has become but that typically people don't come up with a name for something if it isn\u2019t becoming common practice. Combining soda with racing fuel is an incredibly bad idea. The concoction can cause vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, blindness, coma and, as we\u2019ve seen, death, depending on how much methanol is consumed. Teenagers Prone to Risky Behavior For parents, keeping teenagers free from the scourge of drug and alcohol abuse is among the most difficult challenges they face. Even behaviors that don\u2019t involve substance use, such as the seemingly harmless \u201cduct tape challenge,\u201d can cause life-threatening injury. Adolescents take more risks than younger children and adults \u2014 think dangerous driving, drug use, binge drinking and risky sexual behavior \u2014 and have double the risk of dying compared to preteens. An exasperated \u201cWhat were you thinking?\u201d has surely come out of the mouth of every parent of a teenager at some point. Just what is it that causes our otherwise bright, savvy kids to throw caution to the wind and take such incredible risks with their health and safety? Advances in brain mapping give us some answers. Scientists once thought that the human brain was fully mature by about age 10 or 12, but we now know that the prefrontal cortex, the area right behind the forehead, doesn\u2019t mature until about age 25, and its connections to other parts of the brain continue to improve until at least that age. The immaturity of this part of the brain helps explain why teenagers do the things they do. Often dubbed the CEO of brain, the prefrontal cortex is involved in a whole range of things, like forming judgments, making decisions, planning for the future, controlling emotions and stopping us from doing really stupid things like drinking dewshine. And because their brains are still a work in progress, teenagers who abuse drugs and alcohol suffer not only from such short-term consequences as memory problems and impaired learning, they also put themselves at risk for changes in brain chemistry that can have lifelong consequences. Teen Drug Use Trends Although overall drug use among adolescents has generally been unchanged in recent years, marijuana use remains high, according to the 2015 Monitoring the Future Study from the University of Michigan. Researchers have found for the first time that more high school seniors smoke marijuana than tobacco cigarettes on a daily basis. Even more worrisome is the abuse of prescription opioids such as Vicodin, OxyContin and Percocet, a dangerous trend among youths that can lead them to the cheaper, more readily available and even more deadly drug heroin. Other teen drug trends parents should be aware of include the use of synthetic marijuana, MDMA (also known as Molly), inhalants, cough syrup and dabs, an extraction of marijuana sometimes called honey oil, budder, shatter or wax. What Should Parents Do? It\u2019s no secret that people who begin experimenting with drugs and alcohol at a young age are more likely to develop substance abuse problems as adults. If you believe your teen is using drugs or alcohol, talk with him or her early and often. It must be an ongoing conversation. Research shows that youths who hear the facts about substance abuse from their parents are far less likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol. If you find out that your child has a drug or alcohol problem, it\u2019s key to take him or her to see a therapist who specializes in working with teenagers and young adults or to explore other treatment options for substance abuse. \u201cThis issue is too serious for subtlety,\u201d\u00a0John Duffy, a clinical psychologist, told PsychCentral. Duffy suggested that parents have a conversation such as this with their child: \u201cIt is clear to us that you have been using something, and we are really concerned for your safety. As your safety is our domain as Mom and Dad, we are going to pull rank here and schedule an appointment with someone for you, and all of us, to talk to about this issue.\u201d The sooner you address the problem with your teen, the better the outcome. Meanwhile, a\u00a0Go Fund Me page\u00a0has been set up to raise money for a drug and alcohol program at the high school the two young dewshine victims had attended. By Laura Nott Sources: \t\u201cMethanol poisoning,\u201d National Institutes of Health (NIH) \t\u201cDoctors sound the alarm on deadly soda concoction,\u201d cbs46 in Atlanta,\u00a0Jan 27, 2016 \t\u201cTeen recovering from horrific 'duct tape challenge' injury,\u201d USA TODAY Network, January 27, 2016 \t\u201cMonitoring the Future National Survey Results on Drug Use 1975\u20132015,\u201d monitoringthefuture.org\/pubs\/monographs\/mtf-overview2015.pdf \t\u201cHow to Talk to Your Kids When You Think They\u2019re Using Drugs,\u201d PsychCentral.com, Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.