Not Just Robotripping: 5 Risky Things Kids Do

Telltale signs of risky behaviors may help parents keep kids safe.

ByABC News
September 16, 2010, 5:35 PM

Sept. 17, 2010— -- Parents' worries never stop. But sometimes, Mom and Dad need reminders that seemingly innocuous items -- cough syrup bottles, cans of computer keyboard cleaners, even incense made from herbs and spices, can provide clues that their children are toying with danger.

Increasingly, curious teens in search of inexpensive highs -- especially good kids who aren't drinking or using illegal drugs -- experiment with things they're sure will fall below their parents' radar screens. Some of the most potent drugs of abuse are stored inside the bathroom cabinet or below the kitchen sink, stashed on a shelf in the garage or basement, or tucked into a desk drawer.

Nadine J. Kaslow, chief psychologist at Emory University in Atlanta, warns parents to be on the lookout for changes in their child's functioning, such as a sudden drop in grades, sudden loss of friends, sleeping much more -- or much less, losing their appetite, becoming unusually secretive, or lying.

She also warns about kids who withdraw from family life and become "disconnected from people in a real way." Some may spend increasing hours texting or on the Internet, where Google searches for phrases like "cheap way to get high" can steer them to how-to sites written by other teens -- a danger cited by other experts as well.

"Most parents are concerned about pornography and online pedophiles. What they don't realize is the preponderance of pro-drug use information on the Internet," warns Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of The Partnership for a Drug-Free America in New York. "It's not on their radar screen, because no one did it when they were growing up."

The following pages showcase a handful of ways your child could be endangering his or her life, along with some tips on what to look for and what you can do.

Products to Look Out For:

Signs and symptoms of inhalant abuse from The National Inhalant Prevention Coalition in Chattanooga, Tenn.:

Nadine J. Kaslow, chief psychologist at Emory University in Atlanta, says parents should be aware if things like medications are missing, and address that right away. "I think you need to be pretty direct in these conversations," she said.

The Partnership, along with Abbott Pharmaceutical, advises parents to take several steps to deter children's abuse of medications legitimately prescribed to other family members:

Things You Can Do

Slang Terms in Prescription Drug Abuse (From The Partnership for a Drug-free America)

In 2008, researcher Volker Auwater and colleagues at University Hospital in Freiburg, Germany, tested Spice Gold and found it contained at least two synthetic cannabinoids.

The problem is, these compounds haven't been tested in humans, so users can't be sure how their bodies might react. These drugs can dangerously increase heart rate and blood pressure, lead to loss of consciousness, paranoia, hallucinations and trigger psychotic episodes.

Other Product Names

"They went in the kid's closet and there was all sorts of paraphernalia," she said. "One of the things we say to parents, 'your kids' room should be your kids' room.' On the other hand, if you do see things like belts around or those plastic bags ... you need to address it right away."

Kaslow says parents can't live in denial, saying "my kid would never do this. I raised my child well. We come from a good family." But she sees that these parents, many of whom were Baby Boomers have no experience with this phenomenon.

"What they know about is alcohol and pot; they don't know from choking games."

Nicknames for the Choking Game

Blackout, fainting game, space monkey, dream game, suffocation, roulette, passout, flatliner, California high, airplaning, American dream, funky chicken, tingling and gasp.

Signs, according to GASP, that your child may be engaging in this practice