Over-the-counter ‘diet weed’ is the new go-to for teens, worrying scientists — and symptoms are hard to spot

Over-the-counter ‘diet weed’ is the new go-to for teens, worrying scientists — and symptoms are hard to spot

Teens are stooping to a new low to get high.

New medical research in the Journal of the American Medical Association has found that 11% of high school seniors admit to using a prevalent and easily accessible synthetic marijuana, known as delta-8 THC.

That number translates to “at least one or two students in every average-sized high school class,” according to Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

New medical research found that 11% of high school seniors admit to using the easily accessible drug. NYPost Photo Illustration
11% is just about one or two students in every average-sized high school class. The Washington Post via Getty Images

A lack of federal regulation means there’s no age restriction on the over-the-counter product, found readily in gas stations, online and in convenience stores in many states — leaving experts worried.

And it’s not just easy access that’s keeping them awake at night — there’s also the concern about the effects and ingredients of variations like delta-8, which is typically targeted and packaged to attract young people.

Teens are especially susceptible, as the human brain isn’t fully formed until age 25.

“With teens [these products] have an impact that is much more significant [compared to] what happens to the adult brain,” Heather Hugelmeyer, director of behavioral health at Northwell Health’s Garden City Patient Center, told The Post.

In other words, young users could be in for something way more serious than a bad case of the munchies.

“I can say there have been multiple, situations around the country that have been documented where people were using these synthetic derivatives that then had terrible reactions,” she said, adding that the realistic number of 12th-grade users is likely much higher than 11%.

“Whether it was psychotic symptoms, passing out or other different types of reactions that were potentially, medically dangerous to that individual — or they became agitated or behaved in a way that put others at risk.”

Two years, ago, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning of the serious health risks associated with use of delta-8.

Delta-8 is not permitted to be sold in New York state and is allowed only in parts of New Jersey, while Connecticut has cracked down on the sale of large doses.

However, Hugelmeyer warns that there’s no guarantee delta-8 is not being mixed into other products, due to the lack of transparency, regulation and deceptive packaging.

Delta-8, which comes in edible forms like gummies, is causing concern among substance experts. The Washington Post via Getty Images

“You really don’t know what is in any of these products when you may be using them,” she said, comparing delta-8 to how other substances may be laced with fentanyl, unbeknownst to a user.

“For me, that’s the big concern.”

The readily-accessible drug, which comes in many forms like vapes or edibles, is known commonly by users as “diet weed” for its reputation of being a weaker alternative than the similar delta-9.

Teens who use it can be blindsided by unexpectedly powerful effects, including depression, anxiety or a condition called cannabis hyperemesis, which induces cyclical vomiting.

Hugelmeyer said the latter has increased in patients over recent years, compared to being “something you read about, but you never saw,” two or three decades ago.

Delta-8 is rising in popularity with high school-age teens. TNS

Delta-8 and other synthetic marijuana can also cause learning defects regarding memory development, attention, and difficulty sleeping, Hugelmeyer explained.

She added that teens who explore substances before the age of 21 have a “significantly higher likelihood” of developing a substance disorder as adults — a difference of about one in four versus one in 20.

The new study found that 91% of the 12th-grade delta-8 users also used marijuana.

Frustratingly for parents, the behavioral health expert says that typical symptoms of usage — like stress and anxiety — are extremely difficult to distinguish from typical teen growth issues.

The only real physical sign is finding pieces of vape cartridges in their belongings.

Hugelmeyer warns that symptoms of use coincide with normal teen behavior.

Parents should also keep tabs on who their teens are or are not spending time with. If a high schooler is trading time with good influences for a bad crowd, that can be a warning sign.

“What I can say for parents is if you see a significant change in your adolescent, something is likely going on,” Hugelmeyer said. Even if their struggle is not drug-related, it’s important to take that moment to connect with teens to open a support system of trust, she added.

“You want to have a conversation that raises a red flag and really just express concern. ‘I noticed X, Y, and Z is happening — that seems different. Are you okay?’ Just opening that potential conversation.”

Source: bing.com

Kerri Waldron

My name is Kerri Waldron and I am an avid healthy lifestyle participant who lives by proper nutrition and keeping active. One of the things I love best is to get to where I am going by walking every chance I get. If you want to feel great with renewed energy, you have to practice good nutrition and stay active.