K-2, spice, synthetic marijuana are all words you may have heard before.
But for some parents what those are and what they do is a complete mystery, partly because the drug didn’t exist 20 years ago.
Synthetic marijuana first started out as harmless herbs back in the early 2000s.
Since then, chemicals and other poisons have been involved in the manufacturing process.
Most products have the label “not for human consumption”.
Addiction counselors said because the word “marijuana” is in the title, it typically is not immediately viewed as “bad” but the effects can be extreme.
For example, Emily Bauer.
The teenage girl smoked synthetic marijuana and suffered a series of strokes back in 2012.
Since then Emily has needed to learn how to walk, eat and talk again.
Her family shares her story, raising awareness to teens and parents around the country on their website www.safe4emily.org
However, despite the dangers, addiction counselor Monica Urena with Cameron County’s Youth Recovery Center said teens are using and abusing synthetic marijuana, in some cases daily.
KVEO’s Derick Garcia asked Urena some parents may know what marijuana smells like, but what does synthetic marijuana smell like?”
Urena said “you’re going to smell something different; it’s not a normal smell that your child is going to have because it doesn’t smell like perfume or a certain type of food.”
While synthetic marijuana did not exist 20 years ago, the culture of “it’s okay to experiment with alcohol” did exist and the acceptance of trying substances is the overall problem.
“How are you going to tell your child not to smoke when you’re an alcoholic?
Every party every gathering there’s always alcohol, so children are raised in that culture in that you know… that’s just normal we can try it.” said Urena on the enabling culture in the Rio Grande Valley.
Urena went on to say she is seeing 2nd generation users (parent/child and guardian/ward).
Every case comes has a different story.
But one story she’s heard too often is the “it is ok as long as they do it at home.” that is a big reason teens come through her door with substance use/abuse.
“What they [parents/guardians] don’t realize is they’re enabling the behavior… and the [child] is going to continue using that substance or worse substances… it’s going to affect their opportunities in life.” said Urena.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, treatment is available in Cameron County at 956-574-0452.