More and more young people are beginning to use synthetic cannabinoids, but many young people don’t know the consequences. These types of substances are created from a variety of different chemicals, and it induces similar effects to THC. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that this synthetic drug can cause mood altering behavior as well as make a person indulge in high-risk sexual activities. This type of drug can also be a gateway to trying other more dangerous drugs at an early age.

There was a survey conducted by the CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School health in 2015. This survey was called the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, and it was conducted as an anonymous questionnaire given nationally to high school students. There were over 15,000 students who participated in the survey ranging anywhere from ninth to twelfth grade [1]. The survey had the students discuss their behavior in substance use, injury and violence, mental health and sexual health. According to the survey, around 9.2% of students had tried synthetic cannabinoids at least once. Most of these young people had tried the drug before the age of 13 [1].

Mental and Physical Side Effects

These synthetic cannabinoids are being pushed as a safe and natural substance, which gives the impression that this substance is safer than regular marijuana. The reality is that this substance can cause different symptoms like increased pulse, nausea, chest pain, hallucinations, delusions, vomiting and agitation [2]. Much like other drugs, there can be immediate problems as well as long-term problems. There have been cases reported of seizures, permanent damage to the cardiovascular system, psychosis, aggression, anxiety attacks as well as fatal overdoses and suicide. If anything, this substance can be more dangerous than marijuana.

High Risk Sexual Activities

Teens already tend to act on impulse. It’s been shown in the CDC’s survey that students who abuse synthetic marijuana are much more likely to engage in risky sexual acts. For example, about 15% of the students who admitted to using this drug stated they had intercourse prior to the age of 13. Out of the 15%, almost 40% of them have had four or more partners [1]. Only about 5% of those who use regular marijuana had sex by the age of 13 [1]. This shows that this synthetic pot is linked to increased high risk sexual activity.

Educated Parents

As a parent, it’s difficult to know how to handle substance abuse with a teenager or pre-teen. There’s a misconception that all teens are going to try drugs or alcohol at some point. This may be true to an extent, but there are precautions you can take to help your teen deal with the issue in a much better way. Dr. Scott Krakower tells parents how to look for the signs of potential synthetic cannabinoid abuse first. This can include agitated psychosis, aggressive behavior and paranoia. One of the main issues is that this substance doesn’t show up on drug tests. It’s important as a parent to notice the signs of potential abuse so your child can get the help they need before the abuse progresses into an addiction. As this is a fairly new drug, the amount of available information is limited.