Marijuana remains the most popular illegal drug in the U.S. (even when now-legal use in the state of Colorado is factored in), and it is certainly the most popular drug among preteens and young adults. However, it is by no means the only drug to be used illegally among this population. Various prescription drugs, alcohol and misused legal substances are also popular with young people looking to experiment. Here is a look at a few other substance abuse trends affecting underage youths that parents may want to be aware of.
The Trend Of Smoking Alcohol
When we are talking about children and teenagers, no form of alcohol consumption can really be considered safe. Even so, some alcohol trends are more concerning than others and the “smoking alcohol” trend is one of those.
Smoking alcohol actually refers to inhaling vaporized alcohol. There are several ways to vaporize alcohol, including pouring alcohol over dry ice and vaporizing it with pressure using homemade bicycle pump contraptions. There was even a commercial AWOL (alcohol without liquid) device available in 2004, but its use was quickly outlawed in the United States.
The trend lost much of its popularity following the ban on the AWOL device, but recent surveys show that it seems to be gaining speed once again. So why is inhaling alcohol an attractive prospect for some people?
Inhaling alcohol causes the alcohol to bypass the stomach and liver, which means that it is not metabolized. This lack of metabolizing has two primary consequences: inhalers do not process any calories from the alcohol they consume, and the effects of the alcohol are much more potent.
Some people are tempted to try inhaling alcohol because they want to avoid the many empty calories that come with drinking most alcoholic beverages. People who are trying to lose weight may see inhaling alcohol as a great way to drop pounds without having to give up alcohol.
The potency and novelty of vaporized alcohol is also attractive to many people. Many experts suspect that the sense that this is something different and exciting makes it particularly attractive to young people who are experimenting with drug use.
Unfortunately, inhaling vaporized alcohol puts people at greater risk for alcohol poisoning than drinking alcohol. It is much more difficult to keep track of how much alcohol you are consuming when it is vaporized. The fact that vaporized alcohol bypasses the stomach also means that the body’s first defense against alcohol poisoning—vomiting—is impossible.
Prescription Drug Abuse
Prescription drug abuse remains a growing trend among preteens and teenagers. Stimulants, opioids and sedatives are the most frequently abused prescription drugs among these age groups.
Stimulant drugs intended for ADHD treatment have become extremely common and, unfortunately, some young people (and older ones as well) will misuse or abuse these drugs. Some use them just to get high, while many others use them to improve performance in academics or athletics.
The abuse of prescription opioids like OxyContin has become a major problem, and carries a high risk of addiction and accidental overdose. However, OxyContin is quite expensive, and many people who have become addicted to the drug are finding that the illegal drug heroin is both cheaper and easier to obtain.
Other Substance Abuse Trends
Purple Drank, also called Sizzurp or Lean, is made with codeine cough syrup, flavored sodas or teas, and often a Jolly Rancher hard candy. The drink often involves consuming around 25 times the recommended dose of cough syrup, and the results are a feeling of euphoria, lethargy, drowsiness, loss of motor skills and dissociative feelings.
Hookah is popular because it is both cheap and unregulated. E-cigarettes are also becoming increasingly popular among smokers, and many young people are using them to smoke marijuana and heroin.
Using inhalants, also called huffing, is also quite popular among young people. Inhalants are attractive to preteens and teenagers looking to get high because they are often perfectly legal and easily found around the home. Inhalants that can be used to get high include solvents, nitrates, anesthetics, aerosols and fuels.