Synthetic pot. Spice. K2. No matter what you call it, synthetic marijuana is bad news. During a recent two-week period, 48 people in Dauphin County and several in York County were hospitalized with overdoses, according to LancasterOnline. Synthetic marijuana-related hospital admissions are spiking nationwide–one Baton Rouge hospital treated more than 110 cases in February alone. What is synthetic marijuana? This illegal drug, which has numerous street names (K2, spice, etc.), is an herbal mixture sprayed with chemical additives that creates mind-altering effects, including hallucinations, intense agitation, and dangerous paranoia. Synthetic pot is never safe. K2/Spice Prevention & Intervention Strategies for Parents
- Monitor your child. Children and teens monitored by parents or caregivers are four times less likely to use drugs. The hours immediately following school (from about 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.) are when kids are most likely to abuse drugs. If you can’t directly monitor your child or teen encourage him or her to join adult-supervised activities, like sports clubs or teams, music or art programs, or youth groups.
- Start the conversation. Let your child know your home has a no-drug policy. Establish specific consequences for violations, and make sure he or she understands what will happen if they break house rules. While it’s never too early to begin talking about substance abuse, you can start discussing synthetic marijuana with your child around age 12.
- Keep the conversation going. Remember potty training? Chances are it didn’t happen in a single day. Likewise, teaching kids to make healthy decisions doesn’t happen in a single discussion. Maintain an open, age-appropriate dialogue about drug use. For example, if you see a news story related to a drugged driving accident, talk about the impact of the driver’s action on his or her life as well as the impact on others involved, like passengers.
- Know the warning signs of synthetic marijuana use:
- Uncoordinated movement;
- Anxiety or panic attacks;
- Seizures or tremors;
- Rapid heart rate;
- Aggressive or threatening behavior;
- Hallucinations or paranoia;
- Small foil packages marked “Not intended for human consumption” (residue inside may look like potpourri).
- Take action when you suspect a teen is using synthetic weed or other drugs. Substance use in kids and teens isn’t a wait-and-see situation. Download The Partnership for Drug-Free America’s FREE Intervention eBook: What to do if your child is drinking or doing drugs for a step-by-step guide that offers practical tips on how to intervene.
You can also contact us about Skills for Life, a Compass Mark program that combines education and intervention strategies for youth using substances. Kids in grades 9-12 work in small groups to practice and improve life skills, including healthy decision-making and effective communication strategies. Contact Bill Pare at (717) 299-2831 ext. 228 for more information. It’s never too early to start talking with your kids about the abuse of alcohol and other drugs. And it’s never too early—or too late—to help a teen using substances. Compass Mark guides parents and other concerned adults to teen drug prevention and treatment resources in Lancaster, PA and Lebanon, PA. Call our office at 717-299-2831 for non-judgmental assistance. Original image courtesy of Jeramey Jannene/flickr.