Use of Synthetic Drugs by Teens

Every year more and more synthetic drugs hit the streets and before anyone has a chance to test and warn the public of the potentially fatal reactions to those drugs, many teens have already gotten their hands on them.

Synthetic drugs

Ecstasy - Synthetic Drugs
Photo by: Kripos_NCIS

According to the New York State Health Department, synthetic drugs are those “with properties and effects similar to a known hallucinogen or narcotic but having a slightly altered chemical structure, especially such a drug created in order to evade restrictions against illegal substances.” The Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) added “based on their chemical composition, synthetic drugs are commonly divided into two categories:

• Cannabinoids such as K2 and Spice. Synthetic Cannabinoids are chemicals that mimic the effect of THC, the primary psychoactive active ingredient in marijuana.

• Stimulants such as Bath Salts. Most synthetic stimulants contain chemical compounds that mimic the effects of cocaine, LSD and methamphetamine. (Similar drugs include MDMA sometimes referred to as “ecstasy”, “molly”)”

Increased danger of  overdose

One of the major threats with synthetic drugs is the sloppy way in which they can be produced. Synthetic drugs found on the street are often cooked up in kitchens, basements, or sheds by those who do not have a pharmaceutical or chemistry degree. This can result in the active ingredient in the drug being too strong for someone to consume, resulting in an overdose. This overdose risk is even greater for teens whose lower body weight and minimal history of drug use make them more prone to adverse reactions to strong synthetic drugs.

Educate teens on risks

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “about 570,000 people die annually in the U.S. due to drug use. Parents and educators should find every opportunity to speak with teens about the risks of overdose and death associated with all drugs, and especially those synthetic drugs that are not regulated. For more information on helping teens with drug abuse issues contact the Utah Department of Health. For those teens facing criminal charges for drug use, possession, or distribution, contact a juvenile defense attorney.

Dealing with Stress and Anxiety – Juvenile Drug Use in Utah

There are several possible explanations for the issue of juvenile drug use in Utah, however dealing with anxiety and high levels of stress may be all it takes to send kids looking for an escape through substance abuse.

Juvenile Drug Use in Utah
Photo by: CollegeDegrees360

Pointing fingers

Peer pressure, demographics, weak family relationships, and poor choices of friends are all areas that have received much of the blame for the problem of juvenile drug use in Utah. While these have been proven to play a noteworthy part in some cases of adolescent drug use, one area that is often overlooked is the everyday stresses of being a teenager.

Rough stage of life

Being a teenager is tough: classes are harder; relationships with friends can change suddenly and dramatically; dating can be cruel; more is expected from parents; and shifting hormones can make everything seem overwhelming at times. Teenagers can be left feeling sad, anxious, and stressed out. It is no surprise that the teenager years, especially starting around the ages of 12 and 13 is when juvenile drug use in Utah sees an intense increase in numbers.

“To feel better”

Photo by: Marius Dollinger
Photo by: Marius Dollinger

Teenagers are often at a loss at how to deal with everything that life is throwing at them. This can often be why normally good kids turn to drugs. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Some adolescents suffer from depression, social anxiety, stress-related disorders, and physical pain. Using drugs may be an attempt to lessen these feelings of distress. Stress especially plays a significant role in starting and continuing drug use as well as returning to drug use (relapsing) for those recovering from an addiction.”

Learn to spot triggers for juvenile drug use in Utah

It is important for parents, teachers, and other adult role models to recognize when a teen needs help and to teach them how to deal with life issues before drugs come into play. This can protect the youth in Utah from a life of substance abuse and dependency or from having a criminal record.

Hate Crime against Police

A Utah teenager was arrested after drugging an officer’s drink and authorities are unsure if the act was a just a juvenile prank gone wrong or a hate crime against police.

Would you like drugs with that?

18 year old Tanis Ukena was working at a Subway restaurant in Layton, Utah when a police sergeant came to the drive through window in a patrol car. After receiving his lunch and drink from Ukena the police officer continued to the station for work when he began to feel a little off. Once at the station, other officers noted that the sergeant appeared to be high on drugs. The sergeant was taken to a hospital and a sample of his drink was tested for drugs; it came back positive for THC and meth.

Hate crime against police or a juvenile prank

Hate Crime Against Police
Photo by: torbakhopper

Thus far, there isn’t a known motive as to why Ukena would want to drug a police officer. With a young, impressionable mind being subjected to the multitude of vile stories in the media lately about police targeting others or being targeted themselves, some question whether or not this could have been a hate crime against police.

2nd degree felony

Whether or not the officer was targeted because of his profession, the young Subway worker was irresponsible and likely not aware that the actions he took could have such severe consequences. Ukena was charged with surreptitious administration of a substance, which is a 2nd degree felony. By spiking the officer’s drink he not only put the officer in danger but now may face up to 15 years in prison.

Parental education

When teenagers are being constantly subjected to social media posts that may encourage or condone a hate crime against police, it is important for parents to speak with their children about the consequences that can come from such actions. There are legal ways to voice concern and take a stand against the questionable activities of law enforcement officers that will not result in an 18 year old serving time in prison time.

Prescription Cough Syrup as a Recreational Drug

A prescription cough syrup cocktail known as Sizzurp, purple drank, or lean is increasing in popularity among the younger crowd as a recreation drug and many teens can’t get enough of the sweet drink until it’s too late.

Purple tinted drink

Photo by: Helga Weber
Photo by: Helga Weber

Sizzurp or purple drank has been sung about and glorified by many rap artists over the last decade including a few artists who lost their lives from the harmful concoction. Sizzurp is usually made from fruity soda, candy such as Jolly Ranchers, and a prescription cough syrup that is purple in color and contains promethazine and codeine. The sweet tasting base of this recreational drug makes it easy to consume, which increases the likelihood of health repercussions.

A fatal cocktail

In small doses, the prescription cough syrup in the purple cocktail can be very effective at controlling pain while quieting a cough and encouraging sleep. In large doses however, the prescription cough syrup can bring upon an overly relaxing high while increasing the chances of addiction as well as seizures or death from respiratory distress. One serving of Sizzurp typically contains several doses of the prescription cough syrup per drink, making it a potentially fatal cocktail.

Felony charges for misuse of a prescription cough syrup

prescription cough syrup
Photo by: frankieleon

Just like any narcotic in pill form, prescription cough syrup is intended to only be used by the person for whom the prescription is written. If someone consumes a drink containing the cough syrup without having a prescription or makes a cocktail and serves it to others, they may face felony charges for their misuse of a controlled substance.

Talk to your kids about Sizzurp

Parents of teens are encouraged to research the recreational drugs that may be popular among the youth such as Sizzurp or purple drank and discuss with their children the legal and lethal dangers of using prescription cough syrup or other drugs to get high.

Drug-Induced Psychosis Leads to Teen Stabbing His Best Friend

A Herriman Utah teenager was arrested after stabbing his best friend during a sleepover last weekend and authorities are investigating whether drug-induced psychosis is to blame.

Run through with a sword

Early Saturday morning following a sleepover between two 17 year old best friends, one of the boys took a collectible sword from his friend’s collection and ran the other boy through the abdomen with it. There was no evidence of an altercation or argument between the boys and as far as both parents knew, they were on good terms with each other prior to the attack.

Four adults needed to subdue teenager

After calling 911, the victim’s father struggled to subdue the teenager from stabbing his friend again. An officer arriving on the scene struck the boy with a Taser and still the teen continued to fight being restrained. In the end, it took the help of two firefighters to control the teen long enough for the officer to handcuff him.

Adrenaline rush

Authorities were originally puzzled as to why the teenager would stab his best friend, however drug-induced psychosis is a possible cause of the attack. This conclusion would help explain the teen’s ability to fight off two adults after having a Taser used on him as drug-induced psychosis often gives users an added adrenaline rush and inhuman like strength.

Drug-induced psychosis

Stimulant drugs such as meth and cocaine are believed to be the cause of most cases of drug-induced psychosis. Drug-induced psychosis can produce symptoms such as hallucinations, aggression, disorientation, paranoia, and short term memory loss. When a person under the influence of a stimulant suffers from drug-induced psychosis, they are more likely to behave irrationally and violently, which can lead to actions they may regret, even if they cannot recall the events.

Attempted homicide charge possible

The Herriman teenager who was stabbed is in stable condition and expected to make a full recover. His friend is facing aggravated assault and possible charges of attempted homicide. While his mental instability is expected to be questioned by his attorney, it will do little to repair the damage done to the friendship between the teenagers.