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Positive news from 2014 research from the National Institute on Drug Abuse show that there is a decline among 8th, 10th and 12 th graders in alcohol use, illicit drug use like MDMA and prescription and over-the-counter drugs like Vicodin. Marijuana use has stayed level. In part this may be due to news sources effectively getting the word out each time there is a teen death related to binge drinking on a college campus or drug taking at a concert. The stories are scary and show that the negative effects of drug use don’t just hit the stereotypical unhealthy heroine user, but the healthy, vibrant middle-class college student as well. Just this past August, a 23-year-old man and a 20-year-old woman died at a New York concert called Electric Zoo and a few weeks later a 19 year old died at a music venue in Boston, all from ingesting MDMA. As the school year started across the country this past September, at least 8 college freshman deaths were attributed to alcohol poisoning or alcohol related accidents.

As parents and caregivers, the best thing we can do for our teenager is educate them about drug and alcohol use. The earlier the better and especially before they leave for college or out to live on their own. Once you’ve established the plan for the next phase of their life outside of your constant oversight, it’s important to talk about the high-risk behavior they might be exposed to from new unsupervised peer groups. It’s natural to want to fit in but it can be done without putting their own life in danger. This starts with knowing exactly what kind of street drugs they can expect out there.

1. MDMA – This is most commonly known as “Ecstasy” or “Molly”. It’s a synthetic drug that increases energy and has psychedelic effects like LSD. It’s popular on the club scene as it lowers inhibitions, makes the user feel happy and content, fuels the night, and enhances the sensations of touching, the vibe of the music and the lights. “Molly” has been sold to teens as the more “pure” form of MDMA. This is simply not true and is often found to contain a combination of dangerous drugs at unknown doses. These drugs can cause rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, sweating, blood vessel constriction, and nausea and vomiting, insomnia, panic attacks, dehydration, seizures and prevent the body from regulating its temperature. This can in turn cause the internal body temperature to rise to a point of brain damage, organ failure and death.

2. Roofies – this is the street name for Rohypnol, a sleeping pill that has been associated with date rape. When taken in combination with alcohol it causes a lack of inhibition and subsequent blackouts that can last up to 24 hours. The person under its affect loses muscle control, gets drowsy, confused and even amnesia. Innocent bystanders can come under its influence because someone will drop it into an unattended drink. People, young and old, should be aware of this and not drink out of any open beverages that have been left unattended at a bar, club or party. Instead, drink fresh sodas or water out of the bottle that you open or have watched the bartender pour.

3. GHB – the street name for Gamma Hydroxybutyrate, another club drug or date rape drug. It is also generally used by teens because it creates a euphoric, uninhibited and tranquil experience. Victims often become incapacitated because it makes them so drowsy and are unable to resist assault. The user can experience sweating, blackouts, hallucinations, nausea and amnesia. It is also a drug that perpetrators will put in drinks.

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