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From Heroin-Laced Tylenol Called 'Cheese'... To Lung-Freezing Household Chemicals: Most Adults Never Heard of the Stuff Today's Kids Are Using to Get High

Aug 13, 2008
We all want to protect our kids and make headway in the battle against teen substance abuse and the spread of illegal drugs. Reports on illicit drug use among teenagers reveal that more than 30 percent of 8th graders have tried or are using drugs. That figure increases to almost 45 percent among 10th grade students, and up to 53 percent among 12th graders! At least 24 million Americans, many of them under age 20, have a substance abuse dependency. Here's more:

* Millions of American teenagers are drinking alcohol, long before they're of legal age. Well over half of all Americans admit they have a close relative (often a youth) with a drinking problem.

* These days it's not difficult for kids to acquire street drugs (like Marijuana... Cocaine... Methamphetamines) that have invaded virtually every neighborhood.

* Powerful prescriptions, often innocently stored in family medicine cabinets, are being swiped by many drug-curious teens trying to get a buzz.

But such drug dangers represent just the tip of the iceberg! You're probably in the dark about the other stuff today's kids are using to get high. It's those insidious chemical concoctions -- available in our own kitchens, bathrooms, closets, laundry areas, garages and even at our computer workstations -- that could destroy the life of a child you love.

As the new school year approaches, and in anticipation of National Recovery Month in September and the National Alcohol Awareness Month in October, every parent and educator will want to be informed about the latest drug crazes, and what it takes to educate and safeguard teens and pre-teens.

A Troubling Look at Cheese-Heroin

The term "cheese" has certainly changed over the last decade If you think it only refers to the tasty and versatile dairy food, or something you say for a smile to the camera ... think again! Nowadays (and your teen likely knows this already) cheese is a highly-addictive mixture of the over-the-counter nighttime pain reliever Tylenol PM and heroin.

Some realities about the cheese-heroin menace:

- "Cheese" is made from black tar heroin (processed from morphine, extracted from the seedpod of the poppy plant) combined with crushed Tylenol PM.

- The mixture usually appears as a light tan-colored powder, packaged in a small paper bundle or in different sizes of zip-lock plastic baggies.

- The drug is snorted through the nose using a straw, tube or rolled dollar bill.

- While surfacing in large cities nationwide, most incidents of cheese-heroin use have been in the Dallas, Texas area.

- Cheap cost is another reason for cheese-heroin's appeal to teens. Users can buy it for as little as $2 a "bump" for a single dose. An entire gram (the size of a sugar packet) costs as little as $10.

- Tylenol PM is not the only drug that is mixed with heroin to make cheese. Benadryl, Nytol, baby laxatives, vitamin B, coffee creamer and lactose have also been found in cheese-heroin. There is no way of telling what heroin has been cut (mixed) with. Deadly allergic reactions are very possible!

- Students or adult drug dealers sell the drug, which is extremely popular among Hispanic teenagers.

Signs and symptoms of cheese usage include drowsiness, confusion and disorientation, depression, sleepiness, excessive thirst, feelings of temporary euphoria, mood swings, poor grades, memory loss and changes in friends, appearance or interests. Withdrawal symptoms range from chills, sweating and nausea/vomiting to insomnia and severe headaches.

What else will heroin, and heroin mixtures like cheese, do to the body? The drug enters the brain very quickly and has an effect on the entire body, particularly the central nervous system and respiratory system. A person's lungs can stop functioning. There is a serious danger of death.

More Shocking Facts about Teen Drug Use

Many kids are looking for a buzz, but instead risking brain damage or death, by inhaling household chemicals like furniture polish, cleansers and disinfectants.

Instant death is caused by inhaling the lung-freezing refrigerant in today's duster products intended to clean computer keyboards. Many lifeless bodies have been found with the product's tube still in the nasal passage or mouth. A person never knows when "dusting" will kill them. It happens instantly and there is no turning back.

Other commonly used inhalants from around the house are glue, spray deodorant, spray paint, paint thinner, propane, even whipped cream in a can.

Drugs are especially bad for teenagers because their bodies are still growing and they are still in puberty. Drug use negatively affects the development of young bodies and can severely damage vital organs like the brain, heart, liver and lungs. Cocaine, for example, can cause a heart attack even in an otherwise healthy young child or teenager.

Furthermore, people on drugs will often do things they never would do if they were not using. This includes hurting themselves or others, reckless driving, sex, theft, raging and getting into fights.

"Gateway" drugs usually open the door to other drugs, drug problems and addiction. Alcohol and marijuana are two of the most popular of these "starter drugs." There is no way to know who will become addicted to these harmful substances, and who will not.

Kids can be very creative at hiding their new drugs, in products, food, jewelry, books, secret compartments and clothes.

"Ecstasy" or "X" contains the synthetic chemical methylenedioxymethamphetamine or MDMA, derived from an essential oil of the sassafras tree. MDMA is a powerful stimulant and hallucinogen that is a mood enhancer and speeds up the nervous system. Drug dealers cut the MDMA with whatever is easily available and cheap. For example: aspirin, caffeine and other over-the-counter drugs are often used. "Fake X" uses a cough suppressant and can cause dangerous hallucinations.

Stimulants known as methamphetamine or Meth are often "cut" with anything, from paint thinner and nail polish remover to drain cleaner, anti-freeze, kitty litter, rock salt, lye and battery acid!

Drinking alcohol and using drugs like cheese-heroin can cause further complications because another depressant is being added to an already deadly mixture. This causes an even higher chance of dying from an overdose. A person's reactions (as when operating a vehicle or machinery) also become slower when using depressants.

Prevention!

One of the best ways to prevent teenagers (or anyone) from ever using drugs is to make sure they are educated on the topic. Take the time to go over this information and discuss it with your children. Be calm, honest, communicate openly, and let them ask questions. They need to feel they can come to you for any reason. It may be a matter of life or death.
About the Author
Sought-after speaker A.J. Crowell, MBA, has been alcohol and drug-free for 20 years. Her new book is "LOVED BACK TO LIFE: Everything Everyone Needs to Know about Alcoholism, Drug Addiction & Recovery." Reach her at 214-686-1245 (Texas); amy@amycrowell.net; http://www.lovedbacktolife.com
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