What Parents Need to Know About Synthetic Drug Use


What Parents Need to Know About Synthetic Drug Use

Bath salts, Spice and K2 are dangerous synthetic drugs many adolescents and young adults are using even though the effects can be completely miserable. Synthetic drugs like these are chemically laced substances similar to marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine and their chemical make-up is what distinguishes them. Synthetic drugs are divided into two categories which include cannabinoids and cathinones.


Cannabinoids are known as Spice or K2, these are chemically formulated versions of synthetic marijuana that contain lab manufactured THC.

Cathinones are commonly known as bath salts, they contain chemical compounds that produce the effects of dangerous illegal drugs like cocaine or meth.

Synthetic drugs are much more dangerous than users and parents may realize, people have no way of knowing what these products contain so they're completely unaware of the chemicals they're ingesting to begin with. Each individual synthetic drug product contains a wide range of different chemical formulations and the potency also drastically varies, some can be anywhere from 2 to 500 times more potent than THC.

Manufacturers that produce and sell synthetic drugs market these products stating they're not intended for human consumption but the way they're designed, labeled and marketed clearly suggests that they be can be smoked or inhaled as a drug.

Even though synthetic drugs are dangerous and are illegal in many states, they're still not impossible for a teen or young adult to buy. Synthetic drugs can still be found in some convenience stores, gas stations, tobacco shops and can also be purchased online. Synthetic drugs aren't that expensive either, these substances can be obtained for $25 to $50 and there are places on the internet that even offer them as BOGO.

Short Term Effects of Synthetic Drug Use

Synthetic drug users have described the high these drugs produce as "horrible", some people have said they see demons, monsters, foreign soldiers or even aliens and sadly some users experience symptoms for 2 to 3 days at a time. Unfortunately some synthetic drug users even require long-term psychiatric care because their symptoms don't get any better. The short term effects of synthetic drugs are listed below and as you can see, they're very serious.

  • Severe paranoia
  • Violent behaviors
  • Hallucinations
  • Chest pains
  • Seizures
  • Sleeplessness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Self-mutilation


The long term effects of synthetic drug use are also very serious, extremely dangerous and potentially deadly.

  • Kidney failure
  • Liver failure
  • Increased risk of suicide
  • Long-term mental illness
  • Self-mutilation
  • Death


According to addiction experts, if a teenager is caught with drugs or even if they're suspected of using them, parents should never put off addressing the issue. Drug abuse is extremely dangerous, even first time use can lead to serious physical, legal and possibly lethal consequences. Even though some young people stop using drugs after their teenage years not all of them do, it's important that an issue concerning drug use is addressed right away.

Tips for Communicating with Teens About Drug Use

The consequences of drug use can be devastating, it's very important that parents and caregivers talk with their children about substance use while they're young. Research clearly shows that the younger a person is when they begin trying drugs, the more likely they are to end up battling addiction someday. Most institutions recommend that parents begin talking with their children before they have the opportunity to use drugs or alcohol and according to studies, this can be way before a teenager reaches high school.

Setting Boundaries and Expectations

It's important that a child has a clear understanding of the rules and what the consequences are if they should break the rules. Today many teens are living in two separate households due to divorce or separation, it's very important that all parents are in agreement with the rules about drugs and equally enforce them.

Being Positive and Motivational

The thought of our children possibly experimenting with drugs someday is extremely frightening so out of fear we could handle it the wrong way, preventing substance use doesn't always have to come in the form of dire warnings or consequences for children. Being positive and more motivational with our children can actually encourage kids and teens from trying drugs.

Build Emotional Ties and Resiliency with Teens

Prevention of drug abuse can even start without having to mention drugs, teaching your child important skills like coping mechanisms at a young age can be very beneficial to children and teens.

Having the 'Drug Talk'

When parents are ready to talk with their children about drug use, they may tend to reflect on a program that was taught in school when they were younger called D.A.R.E., and tell them to "just say no" if they're ever approached. Taking this approach isn't as effective as once thought though, after generations of D.A.R.E. graduates, studies found that "just saying no" didn't keep enough teens from using drugs.

A National Institute of Justice Research Brief in 1998 filed the D.A.R.E. program under drug prevention that 'doesn't work'. Even though telling your child to "just say no" to drugs isn't effective enough, it's still extremely important for parents to have the 'drug talk' with their children about the dangers and consequences involved with substance abuse.

Set a Good Example

It's very important for parents to be good role models for their children and set good examples themselves. Children are at a higher risk of trying drugs if a parent abuses drugs or alcohol themselves. Experts also say when talking with our children about substance abuse, we should never hesitate to point out the real-world consequences of drug use and addiction.

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