With the current emphasis on protecting your prescription drugs from teens and pre-teens, parents may be missing a bigger culprit. In the usual way teens push boundaries, explore and take risks, youngsters often turn to substances we don’t even think of as drugs.
The rumors and information flies around the Internet or speeds through chat. Kids talk about drinking mouthwash (for the alcohol content) or inhaling fumes from glue, household cleaners or even gasoline. It’s enough of an issue that Dr. Terry L. Smith goes around West Virginia spreading the word through workshops.
His seminar covers common household items that kids will misuse in an attempt to get high, as well as including the “rush” some get from shooting guns. The workshops are restricted to those over 18 to prevent the underaged from picking up new ideas.
There’s also a virtual household on the DEA website where adults can see what might be tempting their children. Alcohol ranks high, even alcohol in non-beverages. Over the counter meds also figure in, as do plant products.
What confuses parents is that these experiments seem particularly stupid from an adult point of view. Who, for example, would think to eat all the nutmeg on the spice rack in one go? Well, a kid trying to mimic the effects of LSD might. What about huffing air freshener? Sound dumb? It is, but not as dumb as other ideas kids pass around.
One of the scariest categories of soft drugs is volatile inhalants. Gasoline, lighter fluid, starting fluid and other flammable liquids are put in bags and the vapors inhaled. Not only can these substances cause seizures and permanent brain damage, but a concealed ignition source can turn the experiment into a flaming tragedy.
It’s worthwhile to get some information about these activities, not just for prevention, but so you can recognize the behavior. A kid exploring household chemicals now may be the same kid using illegal drugs later.
So, while understanding the law enforcement focus on tobacco, alcohol and prescription drugs, parents should be aware of which household items might precede these on the path toward addiction.