Teens have always experimented with drugs without their parents' knowledge -- at a park, in a car or at a party. Sometimes even at home, right under their noses. Because this generation of teenagers has grown up chronicling their lives online, and because the internet reflects what teens have always done offline, it makes sense that teens would talk about their drug use and attempt to find drugs or alcohol on the web. My generation didn't grow up with the internet -- we had to offer the hapless adult on the street cash to go buy us beer.
USA Today published a story today about how teens are chatting up their drug use online. Like most sensational stories about teen internet use, this one does its job by making parents feel that there is something new and scary happening with teen drug use because of the internet. Is there more information about drugs online? Yes. Is some of it inaccurate or completely bogus? Yes. Is some of it actually accurate and really helpful? Oh, wait, they didn't mention that in the story. Will teens get bad information about drugs and sex from their peers? Of course. They get that offline, too. If anything, the fact that teens are actually documenting their drug use publicly and openly means you can find it and intervene. My guess is that teens in recovery are also talking about what that feels like and inspiring other teens as well.
The best prevention method for teen drug use is talking to your teen. Start early when they're tweens. Give them real information about different drugs, their effects and the risks. Talk to them about not ever driving drunk or impaired. Even if they screw up and get drunk or high, tell them to call you, and that you'll come pick them up. No questions asked. Just keep talking to them. Bookmark a website like the NIDA, where teens can get solid information about each drug and what it does. Just say no to painting the internet as a new negative force every parent should fear (it's appropriate to be concerned and engaged, but there is no reason to be afraid) -- especially when it's simply reflecting an issue that's always been around, and if anything, bringing it out of the shadows.
The USA Today story did include this nifty glossary of teen slang around drugs:
Candy flipping: A high by combining LSD or acid with Ecstasy.
Crank: Low-quality crystal methamphetamine.
Crunk(ed): To get high and drunk simultaneously, as in, "Yo, we've got beer and weed. Let's get crunked."
Dank: An especially strong type of marijuana that is sticky and hairy. Also, something really great. "That's some strong dank."
DXM: Dextromethorphan hydrobromide. A drug found in over-the-counter cough medicine, which in large quantities causes hallucinations. "I'm out of weed, let's trip on DXM."
Hotboxed: Smoking marijuana in a confined space so it fills with smoke, as in, "Let's hotbox the car."
Krippy: Highest grade of marijuana
Shake: The end bits of a bag of marijuana. "All I've got left from my stash is some shake."
Skunk: A crossbred type of marijuana.
Triple Cs: Coricidin cough and cold medicine. In large quantities, it causes hallucinations. "I'm out of X, but I've got Triple Cs."
Source: Nielsen BuzzMetrics, USA Today research