3 New Dangerous Drug Habits in Teens

It’s well-known that teens experiment with illegal substances such as alcohol and marijuana. But recently, children and teens have turned their attention to substances found at home or local convenience stores. They’re abusing parents’ prescription painkillers, energy drinks and computer cleaners.

Here are three new drug trends among kids: Energy drinks in elementary school. In recent years, drinks that combine alcohol with caffeine, such as Four Loko, have been blamed for the deaths of teens and college students. But a new epidemic involves younger children: elementary school students are drinking highly caffeinated energy drinks to catch a buzz. Even without alcohol, these drinks are dangerous to kids’ health. “Energy drinks are gateway for elementary school kids,” said Mike Gimbel, a national substance abuse educator. “They drink it like it’s water. Nurses have kids coming in with heart palpitations.” Gimbel said he has also observed a growing fascination among elementary school students with caffeinated gel strips that you place on the tongue, such as ones made by the brand Sheets. “One strip is equal to a cup of coffee, but kids are putting five or six in their mouth at once,” he said. “You can overdose on caffeine by taking three or four.” Overconsumption of caffeine, especially in young children who have smaller bodies, can cause seizures, strokes or even sudden death, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.