Teenagers-with-arms-intertwined-and-backs-to-camera-walking-on-a-field-of-green-grass-bordered-by-trees-new-drug-trends-among-youth-2022

3 New Drug Trends Among Youth to Watch in 2022… and What You Can Do About Them

Kids are turning to drug use at a very early age. Unfortunately, statistics show that things are getting worse:

  • There has been a 61% increase in the use of drugs among 8th graders in 2020 versus 2016.
  • Half of all teenagers admit to misusing a drug at least one time.
  • In 1999, there were 1,240 overdose deaths among 15- to 24-year-olds. In 2019, just 10 years later, that number nearly quadrupled to 4,777   (NCDAS, 2021)

For parents, keeping kids off drugs is a primary concern. However, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed in trying to protect them. There are new drugs, new drug trends, and new ways for your children to interact with and be exposed to things that you would rather they not. Here are the top three new drug trends among youth to watch out for in 2022, as well as information on what you can do to combat them.

#1 New Drug Trend: Snapchat Drugs

“At about nine o’clock he came home and went right up to his room… and that was the last we saw of him until the next morning when I found him on his floor. He had taken one pill, one pill he had purchased through social media… through Snapchat… That one pill killed him, when we got that toxicology report back there was enough fentanyl in [his] system to kill four people,” – Amy N., speaking about her son’s overdose to News@10 (Currier, 2021)

Social media has become a platform for young adults to connect with the drug dealers. Unfortunately, keeping young adults off social media entirely is a real challenge. You do not want to them to feel alienated from their friends, but you still want to protect them.

To be fair, it is not as though your child will sign up for social media and immediately be offered illegal substances. Instead, it is through networking. Social media gives your child access to a large variety of people with whom they share interests and friends. They can socialize with people they know as well as those they do not. Some of these people may be drug dealers.

There have been several known instances of kids purchasing illegal substances via social media. Reports have come from at least 15 states of counterfeit pills posing as Xanax, Percocet or Oxycontin which instead contain a lethal amount of fentanyl being sold on Snapchat.

“It was as easy as ordering a pizza… He delivered right to our house.”Matt C., whose daughter died after taking a deadly pill bought on social media (Solon, 2021)

In February 2021, Dr. Laura Berman’s 16-year-old son also died when he ingested Xanax laced with fentanyl purchased through Snapchat.

“I thought that the worst thing that can happen on Snapchat were nude pictures or saying something inappropriate or something like that… I had no idea there were drug dealers on there.”Berman, TV host, speaking about her son’s overdose death (Hughes, 2021)

For its part, Snap, Inc., has responded with beefing up its proactive detection efforts, providing in-app education, and collaborating with law enforcement. They have also invested in research as well.

“[Snap, Inc. research] found that teenagers are suffering from high levels of stress and anxiety and are experimenting with the use of prescription drugs as a coping strategy and aren’t aware of the dangers posed by counterfeit pills.” (Sforza, 2021)

Of course, this is also a problem on other social media sites as well, such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok – all of which have stated they have taken measures to stop the sale of illicit drugs on their sites through several means.

This is important, because counterfeit pills have shown up in sharply increased numbers over the last year. Lab reports confirm that there is more fentanyl in pills now as well. Not all of these pills are sold on social media, but these platforms are still a target-rich environment for dealers preying on young people. As such, dealers are likely to continue their efforts to evade detection and enforcement.

Even with stepped up efforts from social media companies, this new drug trend is still a concern for millions of parents.

#2 New Drug Trend: Marijuana Laced with Fentanyl

Up until recently, this new drug trend was unconfirmed. On November 15, however, a Connecticut lab reported the first proven case of marijuana laced with fentanyl.

In the four months leading up to that, 39 people had to be revived with naloxone after they smoked marijuana, and, on November 22, there was another overdose on marijuana that tested positive for fentanyl in Vermont as well.

The question now is this: Knowing it’s deadly, why would dealers add it to marijuana? The answer is simple: money.

“It’s so easy to get, add in the addiction factor and it just keeps people coming to that same dealer,” – Brian Foley, assistant to the Commissioner of the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, in an NBC Connecticut interview  (Miller, 2021)

As you can see, there is reason to suspect that fentanyl could turn up in more batches of marijuana. Fentanyl is highly addictive and profitable for drug dealers. Unfortunately, it is much more lethal than unadulterated weed.

It’s important to note that fentanyl can turn up in any illegal substance – pills, marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and more. Your children need to know this.

New Drug Trend: A Drug Called Paint?

Keeping on top of the names of new and emerging substances is also important as parents can keep an ear open for potential trouble.

Earlier this month, a new drug called paint was found at a high school in California.

Paint is a very cheap ($5 a pill, according to school officials), easily accessible and highly addictive psychedelic pill which thus far has only been found in California. As news travels fast these days, however, it could soon begin growing in popularity. Lab tests on the exact content of the drug are pending.

The pill is said to be clear with a reddish-brown dust. (CBS Chicago, 2021)

How You Can Help Keep Your Kids Off Drugs 

Although you may feel helpless to keep your children off drugs, you are not. There are things you can do to lessen the chance your child will turn to illicit substances. And there are certainly things you can do if they are already using.

Build Trust & A Relationship with Your Children

The irony is that there are plenty of stories of young adults who struggled with substance abuse and admit that their parents were strict – focused on enforcing rules rather than simply talking with them.

While everyone is different (and responds to different parenting), starting with open communication increases the likelihood that your children will respond positively and be more honest and open with you.

Let them know that if they have tried something, or know people who are using or selling, they will not get in trouble for being honest with you. They simply need to communicate.

Seek to Understand… and to Educate

First, you must understand what your children are facing.

Consider reaching out to rehab centers that offer information about talking to children about substance abuse. These facilities have years of experience with these battles and can give you a head start on getting the information you need to combat this potential threat.

Schools have also incorporated programs to teach their students as much as possible about the dangers of doing drugs and drinking. However, just as with their regular subjects, having the parents join in their efforts is always beneficial.

Education is the key to battling an enemy like substance abuse. The more prepared our children are for this foe, the better prepared they will be to fight it. This includes peer pressure, anxiety, depression, and other factors that could sway them into trying substances that are dangerous for them.

Monitoring Social Media

Social media is not going anyway anytime soon. As a parent, you must focus on education to battle these potential traps and mistakes your children can fall into.

Monitoring them is important and can be effective. Safety is number one, of course, while giving them a sense of privacy and independence. Growing up has always been a balancing act.

Start with the Why

If you are not sure where to begin, focus on showing your children why there is a concern and why they need to stay away from these substances.

Bottom line, they won’t know what they are getting when they choose to partake of an illegal substance. You are not trying to control what they do or keep them from having a good time. It is nothing less than an effort to save their lives.

Sound like a lot of work? It can be. But, when you consider the stakes, it is worth it.

RELATED: How to Get a Drug Addict Into Rehab
Whippets: 13 Things to Know About this Dangerous Drug
8 Lies Addicts Tell… and Why

SOURCES

CBS Chicago. (2021, November 4). Officials warn of kids selling dangerous New Street Drug ‘Paint’ at school. CBS Chicago. Retrieved December 1, 2021.

Currier, C. (2021, July 16). Mother speaks out after teen son dies from drugs bought on Snapchat. KTVL. Retrieved December 1, 2021.

Hughes, M. (2021, February 11). After teen son’s deadly overdose, doctor warns parents about social media’s role in buying and selling drugs. NewsNation Now. Retrieved December 1, 2021.

Miller, S. (2021, November 22). CT Lab confirms marijuana laced with fentanyl is a new public safety threat. NBC Connecticut. Retrieved December 1, 2021.

National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics. (2021, May 13). Teenage drug use statistics [2021]: Data & Trends on abuse. NCDAS. Retrieved December 1, 2021.

Sforza, T. (2021, October 10). ‘one pill can kill:’ DEA, Snapchat, parents confront deadly fentanyl. Orange County Register. Retrieved December 1, 2021.

Solon, O. (2021, October 1). When one pill kills. NBCNews.com. Retrieved December 1, 2021.

Justin Baksh, LMHC, MCAP, Chief Clinical Officer

Chief Clinical Officer
Foundations Wellness Center

Meet author Justin Baksh, LMHC, MCAP, the Chief Clinical Officer of Foundations Wellness Center. A former United States Marine, Justin holds a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling and has also attained the Certified Master’s Level Addiction Professional credential.

Justin has over 10 years of experience working with substance use and polysubstance use disorders, as well as anxiety, depression, life stressors, life transitions, trauma, PTSD, ADHD, ADD, OCD, and a variety of other disorders using cognitive behavioral therapy, DBT, biofeedback, strength-based and solution-based modalities. Read Full Bio

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