3 drugs parents should know about

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Alcohol. Marijuana. Cocaine. These substances have been around a long time. Parents worried about their teen using these products would probably recognize them on sight.

But parents may be less familiar with some of the newer illicit drugs—like bath salts, salvia and spice. In recognition of National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week, here’s a primer on these three popular drugs:

Bath salts

Street names: bloom, cloud nine, flakka, scarface, vanilla sky and white lightning.

What they are

Bath salts consist of man-made chemicals related to a stimulant called cathinone. They’re similar to methamphetamine and methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), commonly known as ecstasy or molly.

What they look like

Bath salts are usually a white or brown crystal-like powder. They’re often sold in small plastic or foil packages. They may be labeled as plant food, jewelry cleaner or phone screen cleaner to disguise the real contents.

How they're used

Bath salts can be swallowed, snorted, inhaled or injected. They can produce feelings of intense intoxication, increased sex drive and agitation. They can also cause hallucinations. Some people have reportedly become psychotic and violent when using them. Bath salts are very addictive.


Street names: diviner’s sage, magic mint, maria pastora, Sally-D, seer’s sage and shepherdess’ herb.

What it is and looks like

Salvia divinorum is a plant in the mint family, which it resembles. It isn’t illegal, but it’s regulated in some states.

How it's used

People can chew fresh salvia leaves, drink the extracted juice or smoke them. Salvia produces an intense, short-lived high that can include hallucinations, mood changes and feelings of being detached from reality. More studies are needed to determine the long-term effects of using salvia.


Street names: black mamba, bliss, Bombay blue, fake weed, genie, K2, moon rocks, skunk, Yucatan fire and zohai.

What it is

Spice is plant material that’s been sprayed with man-made chemicals.

What it looks like

Spice resembles shredded plant material. It can sometimes look similar to marijuana. It’s sometimes disguised as incense.

How it's used

Spice can be rolled into a cigarette, similar to a marijuana joint. Sometimes it’s mixed with marijuana or made into a tea for drinking. It can also be processed into a liquid to use (“vape”) in e-cigarettes. Users report results ranging from relaxation to extreme anxiety, paranoia or hallucinations. More research is needed on the long-term effects of using spice, but people who use it have been known to have symptoms of addiction and withdrawal.

Learn more

For more tips, check out this article on how to raise drug-free kids.

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