Teen Drug Trends Survey: K2 Losing Popularity but Illicit Drug Use on the Upswing

k2, spice, synthetic drugsGateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment points to a new study that shows synthetic marijuana (marketed as K-2, Spice, etc.), which has been of increasing concern because of its adverse effects and high rates of use, is losing its appeal with teens. Conversely, teen drug trends indicate overall illicit drug use is trending upward—which is being driven by teens’ drug of choice: marijuana.

The Good News

The second-most popular illicit drug used in 2012 among 10th and 12th graders (after marijuana) is dropping in popularity today. In 2013, there was a highly statistically significant fall in use of K2 and Spice among high school seniors, and a significant decrease for three combined grades. According to the 2013 Monitoring the Future study:

  • Among 12th graders: 11.3 percent used K2 in 2012, which dropped to 7.9 percent in 2013.
  • Among 10th graders: 8.8 percent used K2 in 2012, which decreased to 7.4 percent in 2013.
  • Among 8th graders: 4.4 percent used K2 in 2012, which declined to 4.0 percent in 2013.

“This encouraging news regarding synthetic marijuana usage reflects a substantial win for the future health and well-being of American teens and families. It also validates how concerted efforts from local, state and national governments in cooperation with the private sector can positively affect public safety in a relatively short period of time,” says Michael Darcy, President & CEO, Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment.

Likewise, research shows a sharply increasing proportion of teens in all three grades see great risk in using so-called “bath salts,” often described as “fake cocaine.” In a single year, the percent indicating that occasional use of bath salts carries great risk of harm has risen by 13, 17 and 25 percentage points in grades 8, 10 and 12, respectively.

teen drug trends, teen drug use, marijuanaThe Bad News

The proportions of students indicating any use of an illicit drug in the prior 12 months are:

  • Among 8th graders: 15 percent in 2013 compared to 13.5 percent in 2012.
  • Among 10th graders: 32 percent in 2013 compared to 30.4 percent in 2012.
  • Among 12th graders: 40 percent in 2013 compared to 39.4 percent in 2012.

These are the latest findings from the University of Michigan’s annual study funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse. Since 1991, the Monitoring the Future study has annually surveyed 40,000 to 50,000 U.S. secondary school students to help shed a light on teen alcohol and drug use.

For teens who struggle with substance abuse issues, Gateway Foundation offers specialized alcohol and drug treatment programs for teens while instilling healthy coping skills to assist teens with the challenging transition into adulthood. To learn more about Gateway’s free, confidential consultation, call 877-505-HOPE (4673).

Gateway Foundation Alumni Warn Others about Synthetic Drugs

Gateway Foundation Carbondale recently took part in a panel discussion hosted by the Harrisburg Alliance Against Drug Abuse to share with concerned citizens the many risks associated with synthetic drug use.

Synthetic drugs like bath salts and synthetic marijuana or K2 are abused for their psychogenic, hallucinogenic and mood-altering effects. While bath salts are in powder form like cocaine and may be ingested, injected or snorted, K2 is normally smoked or may be rendered into a liquid and taken with food.

Jennifer Casteel, a substance abuse counselor at Gateway Foundation Carbondale, was joined by two young men who volunteered to share their experiences with bath salts and synthetic marijuana. Currently in recovery, they both completed substance abuse treatment at Gateway Foundation Carbondale. Now the young men are cautioning others to stay away from synthetic drugs.

“Bath salts and K2 can cause adverse reactions, such as: hallucinations, seizures, agitation, vomiting, paranoia, anxiety, blacking out and over-stimulation of the central nervous system,” Casteel explained.

One of the young men primarily abused bath salts. While bath salts are now illegal, they weren’t when he started using them. He could find them for legal sale at several stores in his hometown for about $50 to $80 a gram. He explained the high was extreme, but so were the lows when the drug wore off and the crash came.

“I was up three to six days with no sleep, no food, just a lot of water,” the young man said. “Bath salts really mess with your brain. You literally hate everything, including yourself. You think about suicide. And you know the only thing that will make you feel normal again is if you do more of this. And that’s how it escalates so quickly,” he shared.

For the other young man, K2 was the drug of choice. A normally laid back person, he said when he used K2 he became violent with his mother, and was led from the house in handcuffs.

An unpredictable drug, some brands of synthetic marijuana may result in a slightly mellow feeling while others may create significant psychological distress. Even within the same brand, the effects may vary from packet to packet. K2 can induce a limitless high the more a user smokes. Its effects can be up to 10 times more intense than marijuana.

With synthetic drug abuse behind them, both young men look forward to a much more promising future. One has aspirations to open a restaurant and the other intends to pursue a career as a substance abuse counselor and help others like him get their lives back on track.

What are Bath Salts?

Bath Salts contain manmade chemicals related to amphetamines that often consist of mephedrone, methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) and methylone, also known as substituted cathinones. The powder-like substance is described as “fake cocaine” and is consumed by snorting, injecting or smoking.

BATH SALTS MAY BE AS ADDICTIVE AS COCAINE

Bath Salts have gained popularity among recreational drug users and act in the brain like cocaine, reveals a study published by Behavioral Bran Research journal. Scientists recently tested the effect of the synthetic drug on mice using “intracranial self-stimulation” (ICSS) – a method that has been used for decades as a way to look at how drugs activate the reward circuitry in the brain, which can lead to addiction. Certain drugs increase the brain’s sensitivity to reward stimulation, which in turn makes them work harder to receive the reward. The researchers measured the mice’s wheel-spinning efforts before, during and after they receive doses of cocaine or bath salts, and they found that bath salts had the same reward potency as cocaine. These finding suggest that bath salts, although marketed until recently as a relatively benign “legal high” – could be more addictive than people may realize.

BATH SALTS SIGNS & SYMPTOMS

  • Anxious and jittery behavior
  • Insomnia, rapid heart rate, nausea, reduced motor control, seizures
  • Severe paranoia, panic attacks, depression and suicidal thoughts
  • Erratic behavior with potential for hallucinations, violence and self-mutilation
  • Lack of appetite

Gateway Foundation offers free educational materials that highlight signs and symptoms of substance abuse as well as on-site presentations about current drug trends. For more information, please visit RecoverGateway.org or email ContactUs@RecoverGateway.org.

Red Ribbon Week: Growing Threat of Synthetic Drugs

As a resource and advocate for substance abuse recovery, Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment is working to build awareness among communities regarding the dangerous health risks associated with synthetic drug use. Banned by state and federal governments, synthetic drugs like K2 and bath salts have proven to be a threat to public health and safety.

K2 and Bath SaltsIn 2010, poison centers nationwide responded to about 3,200 calls related to K2 and bath salts. In 2011, that number jumped to more than 13,000 calls. To help reverse this trend, on July 10, 2012, President Obama signed a law banning more than two dozen of the most common chemicals used to make synthetic drugs.

Gateway Foundation believes that communicating the dangerous and damaging effects of synthetic drugs like K2 and bath salts through public awareness and education is critical. Therefore, we offer free educational materials that highlight signs and symptoms of substance abuse as well as on-site presentations about current drug trends. For more information, please visit RecoverGateway.org or email ContactUs@RecoverGateway.org.

%d bloggers like this: