Parents have always worried about their teens becoming involved with drugs.
But now, those worries have come home.
Teens have discovered they don't have to turn to marijuana or other street drugs to get high.
"One out of six children by the time they get to eighth grade, they're going to have used inhalants," says Richmond Co. School System Public Safety Chief Patrick Clayton.
Clayton is a 28 year veteran of the Drug Enforcement Agency.
He says teens are inhaling household chemicals to get high, known as huffing.
"When you start taking the nitrates, gases, and the solvents, and you're ingesting them in concentrated strengths, they will make you drunk and they'll make you intoxicated," he says.
Thousands of YouTube videos exist of teens inhaling aerosol cans and air dusters, many thinking their actions won't harm them.
It's a dangerous mistake they make, one that can have fatal consequences.
"These are not made to be ingested or breathed in," says Clayton. "When you get large amounts of it, it can cause heart failure and death."
But the dangers aren't just under your sink, they may also be above it.
Teens have started finding their way into medicine cabinets to get high.
"They call it a cocktail," says Clayton. "Where they take Xanax, Somo, and Oxycodine together."
"This year alone, they're forecasting more deaths from overdosing on prescription drugs than car fatalities," says Bradford Health Services Community Advisor Terry Childers. "And a lot of those are young people."
They say teens make the mistake of believing the prescription medicines are less dangerous than other drugs.
"A lot of it is a lack of knowledge, a lack of education about just how dangerous this is," says Childers.
"They look at it and they say, ‘Well they're not street drugs,'" says Clayton. "In their minds, it's not as dangerous. But if it's not as dangerous, it's more dangerous."
And it's not just prescription medicine either. Teens are also overdosing on over-the-counter types, such as Robitussin, as well.
"They call it 'Robo-tripping,'" says Clayton. "They'll take large amounts of it and it'll cause them to lose motor function and also cause them to have hallucinations."
According to Childers, huffing and prescription drug abuse could be much like other gateway drugs.
He says it can lead to the use of much harder drugs.
"Once you use one substance for a while, you may build up a tolerance or you want to find a new substance to get high," Childers says.
The best way to keep teens safe, they say, is for parents to get involved and stay involved.
"Communication between the parents and the children is key," says Childers.
They suggest ridding your home of leftover prescription medicines, and keeping a close eye on household chemicals.
Also, watch out for sudden changes in your teen's habits or attitude.
"If they're acting abnormal, or out of the norm, that's a dead giveaway that maybe you need to look closer and talk to them and see what's really going on," says Clayton.
They say all this can help you keep your teens safe, and help keep the dangers in your home from being so dangerous.
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Ryan David Jones/Source: RCSO
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