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Tips For Parents On New Street Drugs Harmful To Kids

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(credit: Dr. Yael Varnado)

(credit: Dr. Yael Varnado)

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STUDIO CITY (CBSLA.com) — If you’re a parent who wants to brush up on your knowledge of dangerous substances in order to keep your kids safe, you might want to read on.

Dr. Yael Varnado dropped by KCAL9 on Monday to share her expertise on some new drugs posing harm to teenagers across the country.

Here’s what Dr. Varnado says to do in order to prevent kids from using drugs:

  • Get involved in your kids’ school and be present: Keep in touch with the school — a lot of problems occur when kids come to school saying they don’t feel well — because they’re popping pills that have interactions with each other and are experiencing side effects.
  • Get educated: If your school offers forums on emerging drug trends — GO!  And make sure your child does too.
  • Get to know your kids’ friends from school and who they hang out with on the weekends.
  • Talk to your kids about drugs: Talk to them about prescription drugs, and over-the-counter drugs and let them know they can be dangerous. Talk about ALL drugs, not just narcotics —educate them yourself about side effects.
  • Teach kids that death isn’t the only consequence: Severe disability can be more damaging — brain damage, loss of function of limbs, blindness etc.

Here’s Dr. Varnado’s list of four new substances parents might want to watch out for:

  • Glass Cleaner: This isn’t the glass cleaner you find at your home or office, it’s a white powdery substance and it’s the newest drug on the scene.  It has the same effects as bath salts — extreme paranoia and hallucinations.  Users report a cocaine-like high.  Depending on route taken (oral, snort, smoke, rectal, or IV) effects occur in minutes, peaks occur in 30 to 45 minutes and it lasts two to three hours.  Because of the chemical nature of the compound it takes a greater amount of the drug in order to get the same high as methamphetamine.  This can lead to greater problems with addiction and increases the risk for overdose.  It may also be referred to as Window Cleaner, Cat Litter or Plant Food.
  • Bath Salts: Don’t let the soothing nickname fool you — bath salts is the informal “street name” for a family of designer, man-made drugs which have effects similar to amphetamine and cocaine.  They can be snorted, inhaled or injected.  The white crystals resemble legal bathing products like Epsom salts and have colorful, teen-friendly packaging often stating “not for human consumption.”  Users of bath experience symptoms such as headaches, heart palpitations, nausea and cold fingers.  Hallucinations, paranoia, and panic attacks have also been reported, as well as associations with violent behavior, heart attacks, kidney failure, liver failure, suicide and an increased tolerance for pain.  What’s even scarier is that we don’t know the long term side effects of drugs like Glass Cleaner & Bath Salts because they haven’t been tested.  Names to watch out for include Bliss, Blizzard, Blue Cloud 9, Drone, Hurricane Charlie, Lovey Dovey, Lunar Wave, MCAT, Meow Meow, Monkey Dust, MTV, Ocean Snow, Purple Wave, Red Dove, Snow Leopard, Stardust, Vanilla Sky, White Lightning, White Rush and Zoom.
  • Skittles Parties: Underage drinking isn’t the only thing parents should be thinking about when teens head off to parties these days.  According to experts, “Pharm Parties” or “Skittles Parties” (named in part because of the brightly colored pills) have rapidly gained popularity among teens.  At a lot of the parties, they just throw the pills on the table like candy that you can take home with you.  Many of the teens are finding the drugs they share with their friends inside their own homes or taking them from grandparents.  Parents need to keep their prescription drugs under closer supervision or even lock them up – especially narcotics. It’s easy to miss a pill here or there and have no idea they are gone.
  • Dusting (Huffing “Dust-Off”): Though huffing, or inhaling household products, is not a new phenomenon — experts have started to see an increase in teens huffing the computer cleaner named Dust-Off (found in most office supply stores) within the last few years.  Primarily nine to 17-year-olds are Dusting.  In 2010 the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported about 2 million kids aged 12 to 17 had tried inhalants.  Kids love that the high can be felt almost immediately, you don’t have to wait for something to happen.  Users report a loss of inhibitions and lightheadedness.  Inhalants can cause nausea, nosebleeds, impaired coordination and, in some cases, death.  Permanent damage to brain, heart, liver, kidneys, lungs are also possible.  Signs your child may be huffing include a sudden drop in grades, a rash around mouth or nose, a change in friends, weight loss or an odor of products on their breath.

Here’s what Dr. Varnado says are some signs kids may have started using drugs:

  • Withdrawing from family activities
  • Frequent nose bleeds, sniffling
  • Red eyes, dilated or constricted pupils, constantly using eye drops like Visine
  • Changes in sleep patterns, insomnia or conversely sleeping all the time
  • Changes in appetite, “munchies” late at night, unexplained weight loss or decrease in appetite, lying about eating or even refusing food
  • Neglecting personal appearance, poor grooming, lack of motivation
  • Heavy perfume smell or tobacco smell on clothes to mask odor of drugs
  • Sudden or significant change in personality, excessive moodiness, anxiety, depression, irritability, hostility, rage, ”over-reaction,” hyperactivity, overly energetic
  • Changes in friend group, unwillingness to introduce parents to friends
  • Periods of unexplained absence from home
  • Disappearance of money or household items
  • Spending a lot of time in their bedroom, or going home and going directly to their bedroom
  • Drug paraphernalia and other associated items like pills, cigarettes, incense, room deodorizer or cigarette rolling papers
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