As parents, we are always concerned about our children’s safety. We sometimes drive ourselves to distraction thinking about all the dangers they may encounter in the world. This is why we teach them as soon as they are able to understand how not to talk to strangers or go anywhere with someone they do not know, the dangers of smoking, not to cheat, lie or steal, and the list goes on. We even discuss the dangers of drugs and alcohol with our children to let them know what is out there, what they may be exposed to and what effects they may suffer as a result of using these substances.

But our responsibility does not stop there. We must continue to research new drugs and new dangers, including technological advances that introduce our children to a whole new realm of deceit and vulnerability. This article will discuss one of the games children are playing, and three popular drugs/substances that children are using, to get high. Some of these you may have heard in passing and some you may not have heard of at all, but it is very important you are aware of these methods and their slang names because kids tend to use words that seem normal or harmless to us to disguise what they are really talking about. At the end of this article, I will list the slang terms of the methods I have discussed so that you are aware of the jargon.

The Fainting Game
There is a disturbing and dangerous game called “the fainting game,” which induces a sense of euphoria by cutting off oxygen to the brain. There are two ways that this occurs:
1. By strangulation
2. By self-inducement of hyperventilation to the point of dizziness and then through a set of biological reactions, euphoria.

In strangulation, one child holds some kind of restricting device around the neck of another child, or uses his hands or arms, to the point of compressing the internal carotid artery. This in turn causes a widening of the blood vessels in the brain and restricts the oxygen flow to the brain causing a child to possibly become unconscious.

In addition, by putting pressure on the internal carotid artery, the heart begins to beat at a slower rate and can possibly result in a form of heart attack. (Strangulation has been used in sexual acts where asphyxiation causes some type of sexual gratification. However, there have been many instances when a person does not let go of the asphyxiating device during the sex act and dies.)

A Drug by Any Other Name
Other Names for “The Fainting Game:”
Airplaning, America Dream Game, Black Out Game, Breath Play, Bum Rushing, California Choke, California Dreaming, California Head-Rush, California High, California Knockout, Choking Out, Cloud Nine, Dumbass Game, Dream Game, Dreaming Game, Dying Game, Elevator, Flatline Game, Flat Liner, Flatliner Game, Five Second High, Funky Chicken, Harvey Wallbanger, High Riser, Hyperventilation Game, Indian Head-Rush, Knockout Game, Natural High, Pass-Out Game, Purple Dragon, Riding a Rocket, Rising Sun, Rocket Ride, Sleeper Hold, Space Cowboy, Space Monkey, Speed Dreaming, Suffocation Game, Suffocation Roulette, Teen Choking Game, Tingling Game, Trip to Heaven, and Wall-Hit

Other Names for “Bath Salts:”
Arctic Blast, Bayou Ivory Flower, Bloom, Blue Magic, Blue Silk, Bolivian Bath, Bonsai Winter Boost, C Original, Cloud 10, Cloud 10 Ultra, Cloud 9, Cotton Cloud, Dynamite Plus, Energizing Aromatherapy Powder, Euphoria, Gold Rush, Hurricane Charlie, Ivory Fresh, Ivory Wave, Lady Bubbles, Lunar Wave, Mr. Nice Guy, Mystic, Ocean Snow, Pure White, Red Dove, Route 69, Scarface, Snow Day, Snow Leopard, Tranquility, Vanilla Sky, White China, White Dove, White Girls, White Horse, White Knight, White Lightening, White Rush, Wicked X, Wicked XX, and Zoom

Other Names for “Spice:”
Black Mamba, Buzz, Earthquake, Fake Pot, Fake Weed, Genie, Hush, Incense, K2, K2 Summit, Legal Marijuana, Ocean Blue, Pot-Pourri, Pulse, Serenity, Smoke, Spice Gold, Spice 99, Stinger, Voodoo, and Zohai

Other Names for “Coricidin:”
CCC, Crazy-Eights, Dex, DXM, Poor Man’s PCP, Red Devils, Robo, Robo-Tripping, Rojo, Skittles, Triple C, Tussin, and Velvet

In the hyperventilation model, a child breathes very fast and hard to induce hyperventilation and sometimes has someone else put pressure on his diaphragm to make it even more difficult to breathe. If continued, carbon dioxide releases from the body and leads to alkalosis, the interference of normal oxygen intake in the blood and brain. Alkalosis leads to many dangerous physical symptoms, but the one that kids are looking for is dizziness and a sense of euphoria.

Why would children choose to play a game that causes them physical distress only to get a few moments of a high? Some of the limited research suggests the following reasons:

1. To be dared by others to do this for entry into a gang, a popular group of friends or to prove loyalty
2. To experience a feeling that others have claimed is incredible, or euphoric
3. To experience what it is like to be close to death

I want to address the issue of being close to death since it is easier to understand why someone would want to prove herself or feel a sense of euphoria.

Children have a difficult time wrapping their heads around the concept of death. It is only at about age seven when we learn to reason logically. Between the ages of 7 and 10 one moves from thinking of death as a magical thing that happens when a scary monster takes you and kills you to beginning to see one’s self as immortal. By the age of ten, most children think they will live forever and do not think they will suffer from arthritis or other diseases or illnesses they have heard of or experienced in their own families; they take risks on the playground and with friends after school.

It is during adolescence that a child is more likely to try something that will take her to the brink of death. Children will then boast about being able to “cheat death” or having a near-death experience and living through it, and subsequently become popular or sought after for advice and guidance as to how to replicate this phenomenon. For children that feel lonely, unpopular or unrecognized, an account about cheating death can too-easily make them feel special or even famous.

Do not think for a moment that your child is safe from knowing about this game. Though she may not have ever mentioned it to you or tried it, studies have shown that in one county in the U.S. 11% of children between the ages of 12-18 and 19% of adolescents aged 18-19 have tried this game. It is likely your child has heard of it.

Bath Salts
A designer drug that you may not have heard of is nicknamed “bath salts,” and these are not the Epsom salts you use in your soaking tub. These psychostimulant drugs may contain MDPV, or methylenedioxypyrovalerone, but no one has proven this empirically. They are stimulant substances found in mini-marts and smoke shops and are sold as Vanilla Sky, Stardust, Ivory Wave, Lunar Wave, Charge +, Blue Silk, Bolivian Bath, Snow Leopard, Ocean Burst and more.

The effects of taking “bath salts” include agitation, psychosis, chest-pain, hallucinations, suicide ideation, increased blood pressure and increased pulse, all similar to high amounts of a stimulant such as amphetamines. Since suicide ideation can result after one detoxes off this drug, it is especially important to monitor a person to make sure that the resulting depression does not cause one to try to take his own life.

What is scary about this drug is that there is no way to know if someone has taken it unless he tells you since the symptoms are so similar to drugs that cause one to become hyper. Whereas legal stimulants are prescribed by a licensed doctor, “bath salts” are not prescribed. In some states there is a ban on their sale, and in October 2011, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency took emergency action to make possessing and selling the chemicals, and their products, used in “bath salts” illegal.

A second drug that is new to the scene is known on the street as “spice” or “K2” and is a form of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the primary psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana. “Spice” is a synthetic form or substitute for marijuana and can be made from household spices, which is why it is so dangerous. Many agencies have reported that kids have overdosed from snorting nutmeg, a common holiday spice that can cause hallucinations, just as marijuana does. Nutmeg sometimes resembles potpourri but can also be mixed as an herbal drink that looks like tea. Kids snort, drink, eat, and smoke this spice. The effects begin about 15 minutes after ingestion and can last for hours. But the “spice” drug ingredients are not limited to just nutmeg.

One professor at Clemson University found that the ingredients used for incense years ago are also being used as a street drug for children to get high. Incense is very easy to obtain and is not considered illegal. However, if kids are going to buy “spice” on the streets, it is easy since, according to the same professor, the active ingredient in spice is known to researchers as JWH-018, and only takes two steps to produce making it quick and profitable for those who know how to develop this drug.

Though “spice” is supposed to induce similar reactions to cannaboids, or the THC found in marijuana, what professionals are finding is that reported reactions are not like those of THC, but are more dangerous and include seizures, stomachaches and blackouts. Even more alarming, someone can buy “spice” for around $40 dollars a bag, a price that kids can more easily afford than other illegal substances.

If you see your child with incense or uncharacteristically searching through the spice cabinet, it is time to do some of your own research. Of course the best course of action is to talk about all of this before it becomes a problem.

Finally, the third drug has actually been around for awhile and may even be found in your medicine cabinet. Coricidin HBP Cough & Cold tablets are an over-the-counter medication but in slang are referred to as “Triple Cs” (because the tablets had “CCC” printed on them). Taken in large doses, this cold medication can create hallucinogenic effects similar to those caused by LSD. The active ingredient in Coricidin is dextromethorphan, which is related to morphine. Many pharmacists have even been asked to take this over-the-counter medication off the shelves to prevent children from buying it or from those stealing it as a means to get high.

Many websites offer easy ways to get high from household products. In the case of taking Coricidin, one user on a website wrote about his learning about and subsequent effects of taking this medication. He discussed how he researched the medication and how it told him the amount he should take and what he should do to get himself dizzy. Another account written by a user of this medication reported that it caused extreme depression and paranoia.

Keeping our children safe is our priority and responsibility as parents. Though we cannot know every little thing our children are exposed to, we can be proactive in order to understand the world in which they are growing up, which is different from the one in which we grew up. Each generation has its battles and dangers. The best way to manage this dangerous trend is to keep yourself informed and communicate with your child.

One way I suggest that parents talk to kids about drugs, especially these street drugs, is to casually ask them at a benign time, such as at dinner or in the car on the way home from school, if they are aware of drugs, if they have heard other kids talk about drugs and what they are saying, if they have seen people take drugs and ask their opinion about the subject. You want to get as much information as possible without sounding accusatory if you have no proof that your child is already using drugs.

You can also bring up that you have heard of new drugs on the streets that are easy to get a hold of but cause very dangerous effects and ask your child if he knows of any. You may even play a game once you have educated yourself on all of the slang terms for drugs and ask him (maybe when he is older such as 10 on up) all of the names used for drugs. Having this conversation with your child will you understand what your child has been exposed to and how to best deal with that information.

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From issue: 27/09-10