In this age of technology, it’s not surprising that entrepreneurs are trying to create a way to get high online. The result is a phenomenon called “I-dosing,” which attempts to alter consciousness via sound. The Internet craze has teens plugging in their headphones to listen to downloadable MP3s that are said to have effects akin to getting high on actual drugs. There are various tracks designed to elicit the same “high” as specific drugs. Anywhere from five to 30 minutes long, the tracks consist of binaural beats, in which the tone of one frequency is played into the right ear and a slightly different frequency is played in the left ear. While some parents have expressed concern that the trend could lead to future use of other narcotics, researchers say that I-dosing itself is harmless.
Popularized in the late nineties rap scene, purple drank has been abused by teens for decades. Rap music is still peppered with references to the substance, and more teens have been brewing the concoction at home. By adding cough syrup with codeine to a soft drink and candy (usually Sprite and Jolly Ranchers), tweens and teens create what they consider a quick remedy for tension, anxiety, and aggression. The drink can be made with the over-the-counter medications like Robitussin DM, which contains dextromethorphan. Normally used as a cough suppressant, in large doses this substance causes hallucinations. A single use can be lethal to an inexperienced user. Other possible side effects include drowsiness, inability to concentrate, slowed physical activity, constipation, nausea, vomiting, and slowed breathing.
While its origins have been disputed, one thing can’t be denied: Planking has taken over as a new teen trend. The activity consists of lying face down — like a board — on any and every surface. Participants snap a photo and upload it to the internet, where planking groups have proliferated to immortalize the most daring or silly pictures. It has caused numerous injuries and at least one death when a young man tried to plank on a balcony and plummeted seven stories. In most cases, planking is relatively harmless, but parents should remind teens to use common sense and safety while participating.
Afraid to be caught with the smell of alcohol on their breath, many kids have taken up the vodka eyeballing trend. Instead of throwing back a shot, teens hold the bottle to their eye and pour the liquid directly into the eye, which is laden with blood vessels. Here, the alcohol is quickly absorbed through the mucous membrane and enters the bloodstream immediately through the veins at the back of the eye. Eyeballing may yield a quick buzz without the bad breath but there can be extreme consequences: Because most vodkas are between 40 and 50 percent alcohol, it can scar and burn the cornea, and even cause blindness.
The choking game
This potentially lethal “game” involves the use of restraints or the assistance of a friend to choke the player in order to cut off the flow of blood to the brain. The purpose is to obtain the high that comes when the restraint is released and the blood rushes back into the brain. In actuality, the “high” feeling comes from thousands of brain cells dying because of lack of oxygen, causing long term brain damage, comas, strokes, and bleeding in the brain (also known as “silent stroke”). Because there is never a way to know the exact time to let go, many participants pass out and some have actually hanged themselves. Most players are teens who want to get high without using drugs or alcohol. Although it is estimated that as many as 250 to 1,000 teens die from playing the choking game each year, most are ruled suicides.
The new drug sold legally as “bath salts” in head shops and liquor stores grabbed national headlines when it was outlawed by Louisiana in January 2011. Many states are trying to make the drug illegal, but since it takes different forms and combines different ingredients, state government officials have struggled with how to define the illicit substance. The bath salts have been found to contain mephedrone and MDPV, two drugs that cause severe hallucinations and psychosis in users who smoke, snort, or inject the substances. A single use causes intense cravings that results in three to four day binges and can end in suicide. Because bath salts continue to be legal in many states, some teens incorrectly assume the effects are less dangerous than other known narcotics. In the past six months, there have been over 3,470 calls to poison centers in 28 states to report incidents of bath salt exposure.
Overdosing on supplements
Studies indicate that as many as 40 percent of all young athletes take protein enhancements, which are available in forms ranging from bars to shakes to powders. While teens may take the supplement in order to improve muscle growth, muscle recovery, and overall athletic performance, there is no evidence that supplements are any more “enhancing” than a nutritious diet. In fact, such supplements can have harmful effects, such as weight gain, muscle cramping, high blood pressure, and heart problems. Creatine, which is found in many products, can actually interfere with a growing adolescent’s own natural production of creatine, making the body reliant on supplements. Overuse can actually cause blood acidity, which then draws calcium from the bones to counteract the higher acidity of pH in the blood, leading to declining bone strength and kidney stones formed by excess calcium. Advertisments for protein enhancements are ubiquitous in sports magazines, and the substances will likely continue to be popular because of the high protein to low carbohydrate and fat ratio, but parents and athletic coaches should monitor their use and encourage a healthy diet for teen athletes.