The ebb and flow of drug use in the United States often mirror the arrival of new drugs on the market or increased availability of certain illicit substances. Some of the most popular drugs with America’s youth today, and ones that land kids in an addiction rehab center, include dangerous street drugs like bath salts and synthetic marijuana.
One of the most shocking statistics of modern drug use isn’t the type of drugs being used, but rather the percentage of kids taking drugs. The National Institutes of Health conducts a study each year on drug abuse in youth, and their 2012 survey suggested that out of 45,000 respondents rates of marijuana use were up significantly and the use of synthetic marijuana (usually known as spice or K2) was also on the rise. Street drugs are prevalent among the youth of America.
Bath Salts, One of the Most Dangerous Street Drugs
Although the name might make someone think of a product available from a health and beauty store, bath salts are a synthetic drug that contains chemicals that mimic the effects of amphetamines (stimulants). Bath salts impact the brain much like cocaine and cause a euphoric feeling in users. Reports of death due to consumption of bath salts have raised fears regarding the growing popularity of the drug with American teenagers.
The government in the United States has deemed bath salts as such a threat to the country’s youth that the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act was signed into law to make illegal the ingredients of bath salts. Unfortunately, people who manufacture bath salts have changed the chemical composition of this dangerous drug to continue selling the drugs without fear of imprisonment.
Marijuana and Synthetic Marijuana, the Most Popular of the Street Drugs
Emerging opinions on marijuana as a safe substance are influencing America’s youth in their belief that smoking weed offers no harm to the body. Views from youth on the subject range from the idea that smoking marijuana is “healthier” than smoking cigarettes to the belief that smoking pot helps with focus in school.
Unfortunately, this widespread perception that marijuana is harmless has extended to opinions on synthetic marijuana, and in just a few short years, this substance has created great concern among health professionals and law enforcement. The National Institute on Drug Abuse recently revealed that synthetic marijuana use was second only to marijuana by high school seniors.
Due to synthetic marijuana’s recent arrival in America’s classrooms, its potential for long-term harm and death is unknown. Some reports suggest that the substance is highly toxic and has been responsible for heart attacks, vomiting, and hallucinations.
Prescription Drug Abuse
Some of the most common drugs abused by teenagers in the United States aren’t illicit drugs but are pharmaceuticals obtained on the black market or through trading with other kids. Some of the most widely abused drugs that are second only to marijuana (and synthetic marijuana) use are prescription medications like Adderall and Vicodin. In surveys, students also revealed the use of Oxycontin and Ritalin.
One of the most shocking aspects of prescription drug abuse is that overdose deaths due to prescription drug abuse represent the most significant source of death due to a drug overdose. Hence, prescription drugs kill more teenagers than hard drugs like cocaine and heroin.
Widespread and Varied Abuse of Street Drugs
Although bath salts, marijuana, and prescription drugs remain the significant threats to teenagers, an incredible number of other dangerous substances also make their way into American homes on a regular basis. The latest Monitoring the Future study suggested that 2.7 percent of high school seniors had tried cocaine in some form, and almost 3 percent of students had tried any number of inhalants that were classified as illicit drugs by the government.
Reducing the spread and acceptance of dangerous street drugs and drug abuse as acceptable behavior in teenagers requires intense lessons in how such drugs may cause lifelong dependence and death. It is also important for society to realize the implications of declaring drugs like marijuana as harmless since teenagers are apt to copy the sentiments of adults regarding opinions on drugs.