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Substance Abuse and Addiction Health Center

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Growing Teen Abuse of Snurf Pills

Experts Say Abuse of 'Herbal' Snurf Pills, Over-the-Counter Drugs Is Up in Young Teens

Snurf Pills Herbal? continued...

"They say it is not illegal and that it's an herb, so adolescents may think it is actually healthy for you," Windle says. "This is a clever marketing gimmick to sell it online. You remove any guilt these adolescents may have about taking a drug."

Moreover, Windle says that since these drugs are not illegal, teens often feel that they are more acceptable to peers and even to parents than are illegal drugs such as marijuana.

Yet both the desired effects and the side effects can be devastating. At extreme doses, Levine says, DXM causes the same kinds of dissociative symptoms -- memory loss, depression, anxiety, detachment from self, sense of unreality, blurred sense of identity -- seen with ketamine, a very dangerous drug of abuse known as "special K."

"DXM definitely has toxicity. At the drug doses the kids take -- six to 12 times the regular dose -- you can have serious toxicities, especially if they take cough syrup that contains antihistamines or Tylenol," she says. "Even at lower doses that give some impairment, kids can get into dangerous situations. It is the combination of toxicity and impairment that leads to harm."

Windle warns that "these products can produce a very severe side effect that under some conditions could require hospitalization or even result in death."

Levine warns parents to take stock of their medicine cabinets, including nonprescription drugs.

"I would just warn parents to be cognizant of what their children are like; to know their daily routines and to know if they are too tired, or if their school performance off," she says. "Talk to kids. They should know these are serious medicines. Injuries and even deaths can occur."

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