Published January 13, 2015
Forget the drug dealer on the corner, teens are increasingly turning to the Internet to get high.
Four Pennsylvania 10th graders were hospitalized Monday after taking an herbal supplement called "SNURF" that they bought on the Web. Click here to read more on that.
"SNURF" produces a high similar to that of ecstasy, PCP or LSD and it’s just as dangerous, said one doctor.
“This is problematic because these substances are not regulated by the FDA so you really don’t know what you are getting when you take them,” said Dr. Manny Alvarez, managing editor of FOXNewshealth.com. “In addition to the dangerous side effects of the drug itself, you also have to worry about impurities. Also, as we’ve seen in studies, kids that use herbal supplements are more likely to use other drugs.”
A study published in 2006 in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that teenagers who had used herbal products, even dietary supplements, were six times more likely to have tried cocaine and nearly 15 times more likely to have used anabolic steroids than those who have never used an herbal product.
"Forget about the marijuana, forget about cocaine," Alvarez said. "Those drugs are still out there, but now there are these other things out there. And, in many cases, they're legal because they're sold as supplements."
In addition to SNURF, teens are buying other herbal drugs online, many of which are billed as “safe” and “all natural.”
Salvia divinorum: Nicknamed Sally-D, Magic Mint and Diviner's Sage, salvia is smoked and looks similar to marijuana. It is a hallucinogen that gives users an out-of-body sense of traveling through time and space or merging with inanimate objects. Unlike hallucinogens like LSD or PCP, however, salvia's effects last for a shorter time, generally up to an hour.
"Salvia is a houseplant," Alvarez said. "Kids are smoking it. They're getting high and they could die."
Spirit Walk: Like SNURF, Spirit Walk is an herbal supplement that comes in pill form. Some users have likened the experience to using hallucinogenic mushrooms.
Herbal Ecstasy: Sold under the names Cloud 9, Rave Energy and Ultimate Xphoria, herbal ecstasy is a combination of herbs that are legal, inexpensive, and marketed as a "natural high." In addition to being sold online, the drug is sometimes sold in gas stations and convenience stores.
Red Bliss: A red capsule, this drug is said to boost energy and sexual stamina. This product is also said to be a mood elevator and aphrodisiac. Guarana, 5-HTP (said to be a natural antidepressant), cinnamon and cola nut are some of the ingredients in this pill.
For more information on teen substance abuse trends, visit The Partnership for a Drug Free America.