If you found this in your child’s room, would you know what it was?
It’s a legal, synthetic form of marijuana, also known as spice, K2, or potpourri. You, your kids and anyone else can walk into a local mini-mart and buy a packet for about $15.
The problem is, while the packaging insists “the product is not meant to be burned, smoked, or incinerated in any manner” — that’s exactly what people are doing with it.
Smoking the packet’s contents creates a marijuana-like high, and many people who use it figure it must be safe because it’s being sold legally.
K2, spice, or potpourri is created by taking many kinds of organic materials, like plants, and infusing them with pesticides or other chemicals. Once dry, the compound is packaged to sell. While no one knows the long-term effects of the use of these synthetic marijuana substances, it’s certainly not safe.
If you’ve heard the term “bath salts” recently, they’re created using a similar method. In this case, the substance is sold in powder or capsule form.
According to the 2011 Monitoring the Future Study, 36.4% of high school seniors used marijuana and another 11.4% used its synthetic counterparts.
But synthetic marijuana and bath salts aren’t the only “legal” dangers out there. Do you have prescription painkillers in the medicine cabinet from your last visit to the dentist or when you had a surgical procedure? Have you checked to see if they’re still there? Prescription painkiller abuse is on the rise – particularly among teenagers — and drugs like Percocet, Oxycontin and Fentynal are involved in 70% of overdoses.
What if you were cleaning your teen’s room and found a water bottle with a straw taped into a hole in the side? What if you noticed a crushed soda can with small holes poked in the center? Either of those items could be drug paraphernalia.
Have you noticed changes in your child’s behavior, mood, grades, or those they’re hanging out with? Do they have dilated or constricted pupils, red eyes, weight loss, paranoia, increased or decreased energy, a runny or bloody nose, or impaired coordination? These are a few of the more obvious signs and symptoms your child might be using drugs.
It’s important to talk to your children about drug use. If you’re concerned your child might be using drugs – whether they’re being sold legally or not — it’s a good idea to talk to your pediatrician.
For more information and resources you can use to talk to your kids about drugs, visit the National Institute on Drug Abuse.