Study: Herbal Supplements Turn Kids Into Crack Fiends

Back when I was in high school, there was only one kind of ‘herbal supplement’: the magic jay bone. Quizzing me and my horde of giggling compatriots in the back of senile Mrs. Johnson’s fourth period Remedial English class, any researcher who cared to have asked would have found that the ratio of herbal supplement takers to illegal drug users was one to one.

Anyway, I have no idea what they mean by herbal supplements nowadays — these kids, with their techno and banana phones and rapping Grannies, I’ll tell ya — but researchers of a study by the University of Rochesster Medical Center has found an association between teens who take herbal supplements and drug use. Among the associations cited: teens who use herbal supplements are six times more likely to do cocaine, nine times more likely to do heroin and 14 times more likely to do steroids.

Is it really any surprise that the sort of kids who think they can “increase performance” by taking a supplement are going to go on to more hardcore enhancers when whatever effect they thinks it had wears off? It’s the philosophy of taking things to “enhance yourself” that is the problem, especially with kids… and kids get these ideas from fucking adults. Perhaps the real problem here is a culture where kids are pressured to decide the course of their entire lives before they’ve even popped their last zit, where authority figures endlessly insinuate that a failure now will have you hauling steaming slabs of cow around an industrial freezer for the rest of your life. None of this is true. But it doesn’t stop nearly every parent, teacher and authority figure from terrorizing teenagers with the same old tropes. Flunk that mid-term? Don’t get a perfect score on the SATs? Drop out of high school? Every kid should be told it doesn’t matter. Everyone makes their own way.


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  1. The Unicorn says:

    These kinds of causality things are always a little sketchy — I seriously doubt that taking herbal supplements actually makes you more likely to use other stuff; it’s probably just that people who aren’t leery of herbal supplements are going to be less likely to turn down other things they’re offered as time goes on.

    This is similar to your point, but it just really bugs me when you see studies like this. Like the whole “marijuana is a gateway drug” thing — well, of *course* people who end up using cocaine/heroin/crack/LSD/GHB/what-have-you have also smoked pot, because pot is usually the first drug that anyone’s actually exposed to. And you don’t find too many people who are like, “Oh awesome, is that angel dust? Oh, it’s weed? Yeah, I don’t smoke weed. Ever.” If you’re the type of person who is interested in drug experimentation, chances are you’re going to start with THC.

    This “herbal supplements” thing basically seems like it’s making the same argument, and I think it’s really spurious to suggest that one thing suggests or leads to the other.

  2. AcidReign says:

    …..We were quite freaked out a few years ago when a kindergarten teacher recommended to us that our 5-year-old son be put on Ritalin. Me, I don’t think that a kid who shirks his work from time to time needs drugs, but what do I know? Concerned about this, and damned reluctant to commit to some hideously expensive recurring dope plan, we asked some other parents in the area what they thought. It turns out that this teacher had made the Ritalin speech to parents of EVERY MALE CHILD in her class! Every single one! Apparently, if you have testosterone in your system, you need medication.

    …..Pills, syrups, injections, etc. are thrown at us from our day of birth. Is it any surprise that teens are willing to try stuff out?

    …..Incidentally, our fix for shoddy work is to make him (without fail!) re-do any assignments which score under 80%. Works a lot better than doping him up.

    …..Pressure? I saw an article in yesterday’s paper where educators were pushing for a policy to make kids declare a high school major before entering the 9th grade! A high-school major! serious wtf?

  3. Paul D says:

    I wonder what the stats are for people who smoke pot and stop there.

  4. Bubba Barney says:

    Good point Ben [if that’s you].

    When I was a lad, I started off on Ecstasy before weed even came in to the picture. I have done everything except heroin, and the crazy stuff angel dust or PCP what have you [are they the same?].

    While I was in my party phase I used herbal supplements to deal with the side effects of such partying. So that might be a link.

    Kava Kava root used to help me wind down. Ginseng got me motivated. I am surprised how strong supplements can be for being over the counter. I sometimes take melatonin now and it knowck me out like George Foreman.

    Even though I partied like a rock star for 10 years I still managed to hold a job and be a cog in the machine.

    Some of my friends still smoke weed everyday but I never touch the stuff anymore. It doesn’t mesh well with my anti-dep meds.