HOUSTON - It may not be the holiday season that’s “making spirits bright” for teenagers. In fact, it could be a high that comes right off your spice rack. Nutmeg can be snorted or smoked or even eaten. In large doses, it can mimic marijuana.
Parents are probably surprised to learn this. But many teens and their friends already know, since there are “how to” videos on YouTube.
“It's been around for a long time,” says Stacie Allphin, director of adolescent programs for Memorial Hermann Prevention & Recovery Center.
“But it's really catching on more and more with the younger people.
What's happening is the kids are taking about two tablespoons of nutmeg and they're either drinking it or smoking it or snorting it in some cases, thinking that they're going to get high like they would from marijuana.”
Stacie Allphin: It takes 2 to 5 hours before it kicks in so you're not going to feel that until much later, which can lead to possible overdose of it because you think nothing's happening so you go and you use more. Some of the police reports have said that people have convulsions, a lot of dizziness, dry mouth, nausea the next day, very much flu-like symptoms. And those can go on for 12 to 48 hours after they've used it.
Stacie Allphin: Typically it's going to be younger people, maybe 11, 12, 13 year olds, someone who's just starting to experiment and looking for something that they can get their hands on. They don't have access to $20, $50, however much money they need to go buy pot or cocaine or something else.
FOX 26 News: You mentioned some of the shorter-term effects of smoking nutmeg but there are longer-term effects as well?
Stacie Allphin: You can eventually get liver cancer and have brain lesions and liver lesions. I don't know much you have to use to make that happen but that is the initial finding, so there are some very serious side effects from nutmeg.
FOX 26 News: You go on YouTube and there are videos showing kids how to build a joint out of nutmeg. Do you think parents know that this is being used like this?
Stacie Allphin: I would doubt that most parents have any idea that nutmeg or other things in their house are being used for their child to change the way they feel.
FOX 26 News: When you're talking about other household highs, things people can get around the house, how much do you think parents are clued in to the fact that these can be misused?
Stacie Allphin: I think parents are more informed than they were, say 10 or 15 years ago, but I still think that there's a large group of people that really aren't aware. Because they think, “okay, I'm going to use the Pledge to dust my furniture.” It would never occur to them to use it for anything other than what it was designed for.
FOX 26 News: So when they run out quickly, they wouldn't think, “oh, my kid's using it.” They think, “I've been dusting too much."
Stacie Allphin: Right, right. Spray paints, those kind of things. I think that parents know that that can be abused but they don't always know or believe that it's going to be abused by their child.
Updated: Monday, 29 Nov 2010, 9:55 PM CST
Published : Monday, 29 Nov 2010, 9:55 PM CST
Ned Hibberd, Reporter
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