A Tale of Two Designer Drugs
Spice, K2, synthetic marijuana; this drug has been grabbing all the headlines lately, particularly here in Oakland County. Also known by a variety of street names [Blaze, Dream, Aroma, Eclipse, and Red Dawn] this still-legal substance is ubiquitous; sold over-the-counter at gas stations and party stores.
What is spice? Mostly natural organics [vanilla, lotus and blue rose] mixed with a laboratory compound designed to duplicate THC. The drug is particularly dangerous to our youth because the primary ingredient binds tightly with the cannabis receptors in their still developing brains.
There is no question that kids use spice because they crave the high.
Tied to two springtime suicides, and through association with Oakland County's patricide du jour, municipalities are racing to outlaw this substance of many names.
Quickly drafted bills are now instantly pending in Lansing. Last week, in a largely symbolic gesture, the Oakland County Board of Commissions passed a resolution supporting the criminalization of synthetic marijuana. All the while, party store owners race to unload their inventory onto the suburban streets.
More subtly, another designer drug has been sneaking into our schools. Many young academic overachievers are increasing their focus, and attempting to gain an edge on exams by ingesting a variety of amphetamines and other stimulants designed to alleviate the effects of attention deficit disorder. Adderall, Ritalin, and Focalin, all used to treat the disorder, are among the most addictive substances with legitimate medical uses.
Not long ago these drugs were mostly ingested by college students pulling all-nighters trying to prepare for multiple exams. Now, they are beginning to trickle down to high school honor students cramming for multiple AP finals. At least so reported the Sunday NYT; above-the-fold, at that.
[My college-aged daughter, now a Sophomore at the Ohio State University, shared with me that many of her fellow-students took stimulants when preparing for, and during, their final exams.]
Unlike spice, the ADHD drugs are not ingested for the high but rather, for their stimulating effect on the brain; for creating what the NYT article described as, "a laser focus, instant recall, and the ability to crush any test in [the user's] path." Wow, sounds great!
But, just as in the case of spice, it is an addictive crutch; a false-promise; a potential launchpad for prescription pain pill abuse. At some point, these students will have to produce, to perform, without their crutch. And then what...
So while the motivations may be different, the fact remains that drug abuse is drug abuse. We must teach our children to rely on themselves; to avoid pills and look within. Whether hatched from boredom or forged from the will to succeed, it is that craving for a magic elixir, for a little something extra, that once again permeates our youthful culture.