Many teenagers turn to drugs out of boredom, rebelliousness, or just a need to escape. The reasons for using are as numerous as the teens who use. Access to illegal drugs, however, is often limited, keeping many would-be addicts from using. Cigarettes, alcohol, and, increasingly, marijuana, are legal options, but only for those of age. However, there are other options for teenagers looking to get high – many are legal, and many are easily found.
Here are six plants – legal and available to any teenager – that are sometimes used to get high.
Legal but Dangerous
- Datura: Datura is a naturally growing plant. It is about as common as crabgrass and grows all over the world. It’s known widely as both “The Devil’s Weed” and “Jimson Weed.” It causes hallucinations for up to 48 hours. Users have reported hearing music coming out of walls, visions of animals, and sparkles surrounding everything they see. The Daily Mail reports hundreds are killed each year from Datura abuse. It can be consumed in multiple ways, including smoking the plant in cigarettes, snorting a powdered substance made from its crushed leaves, and consuming it via brewed teas. Due to its prolific spread, and its popularity on the Internet, Datura is quickly becoming one of the most prominent ways for teens to get high legally. While it has been used medicinally and spiritually for centuries, Datura is a poisonous plant, and overuse can cause dire illness, if not death. Parents should absolutely be on the lookout for this strange spiky weed.
- Nutmeg: Nutmeg is very common; most people keep it right in their spice cabinets. However, if teenagers use enough of it, they can easily get high. Some say even a dash of nutmeg in eggnog can create a mild euphoric effect, but teens are using quite a bit more than a sprinkle. Teens will usually ingest an entire tablespoon of the spice to get the desired high, however, the high is hardly euphoric. According to Medical Daily, users have reported a feeling of being stuck in mud, or almost feeling comatose. Many who take it black out and can’t remember much of anything after ingesting the spice. While nutmeg ingestion is not deadly, it can have some pretty awful side effects, including intense vomiting, though the worst of it can be permanent nerve and hearing damage. Worried parents should consider hiding their nutmeg or at least keeping a close eye on it.
- Kava: Kava root is often used as an herbal remedy, and it can be picked up at any health food store in tincture or powdered form. Taken as instructed, it may offer a mild high, and it is often used as an herbal supplement for those suffering from anxiety or insomnia. While it’s intended to help those with mental illness, if abused, it can have disturbing side effects. Some reports have shown that kava kava is unhealthy for the liver, and overuse can cause liver disease; however, this has been disputed in subsequent studies. Beyond this, abuse of kava kava can lead to dystonia, yellowed skin and drowsiness. While it’s not the most destructive plant on this list, parents should still watch for signs of abuse.
- Fly agaric mushroom: Many are familiar with psilocybin mushrooms, or “magic mushrooms,” which are illegal. However, the fly agaric mushroom, which also causes hallucinations when consumed, is perfectly legal. These mushrooms grow naturally, usually at the base of evergreen trees. There are recognizable by their fairytale-like appearance: red with white spots. While hallucinogenic, they are also extremely poisonous. Users have described the experience as foggy, creating incoherent thoughts. For instance, one may get up to do something then forget what the action is, finding himself in a completely new space, very confused. One mushroom may be toxic. While it will generally not kill a person, according to Kew, it may produce sweating and salivation that can lead to dangerous levels of dehydration. It is rare, but if too much of the mushroom is ingested, death is a real possibility. The other danger is misidentification. Many mushrooms are toxic and can lead to death. So if high-seekers harvest the wrong mushroom, it could lead to death.
- Morning glory seeds: Though the extract from morning glories, LSA, causes hallucinations and is illegal in most areas, morning glories and their seeds are completely legal. In fact, morning glory seeds can be bought at most hardware or gardening stores. The seeds are generally brown or black. They go by many names including “Heavenly Blue,” “Flying Saucers,” “Pearly Gates,” and “Baby Woodrose.” The LSA chemical inside them produces an LSD-like effect. The seeds are generally chewed to achieve the desired high, though they can be inhaled if crushed and rolled into cigarettes. It is currently unknown just exactly how widespread the abuse of the seeds is. Generally, the high lasts 5-10 hours, and nausea and vomiting are common side effects. Long-term use can lead to liver and neurological damage.
- Damiana: Damiana is a natural herb. It grows commonly in Central America, Mexico, and the West Indies, and it can be bought at most health food stores in the US. As a supplement, Damiana is used to cure sexual dysfunction, depression, and digestive problems. It is also abused by many, mostly through inhalation, as it brings its own unique high. Continued use of Damiana can create dependency. Like most addictions, the use of Damiana can overtake a teenager’s life, as the teen abandons other activities to pursue the next high. If a teen is addicted to Damiana, they should be observed while undergoing withdrawal.
Getting Help for Teen Substance Abuse
It can be difficult to deal with a teen who has been abusing drugs – both legal and illegal – especially if he has reached a point of dependency. Many parents and teens seek help to address this dependency, and help is not always easy to find. The first real step to getting help is to identify the problem.
- Sudden change in friends
- Lack of interest in hygiene
- Declining grades
- Skipping school
- A change in sleeping or eating habits
These signs can sometimes be tricky since some may be present simply because one is a teenager. If you notice these signs in your teen, keep a closer eye out for potential drug use. You may discover evidence of these plants – such as crushed leaves or little plastic baggies – in their room or in the pockets of their clothes.
The most important thing to remember is to remain calm and empathetic. While you may feel angry at the behavior, an ugly confrontation could drive a teenager into deeper abuse. Instead, approach your teen from a place of understanding and a desire to help. It can be helpful to enlist the assistance of a professional in the process.
For more information, reach out to Next Generation Village today. Next Generation Village focuses specifically on teens who are suffering from substance abuse and mental health issues. Begin your teen on the journey to recovery today.
Medical Disclaimer: Next Generation Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.