What’s the latest?

This page has up-to-date information about some of the latest trends in substance abuse as well as information from national and local resources. Read on to find out information about current trends with alcohol, drugs and tobacco.

Substances you should know about:


Bath salts

Bath salts are one of the latest designer drugs to be sweeping the country. This powdery substance is packaged as “bath salt” to get around drug laws. Bath salt is a hallucinogen and people who use it experience intense paranoid delusions - some believing their friends and family are out to hurt them, others seeing grotesque visions. Frequently, these incidents are followed by days of anxiety and paranoia.

The drug has unusually dangerous and long-lasting effects and habitual drug users are attracted to the drug due to these long-lasting effects.

Users of bath salts experience increased heart rates, paranoia, anxiety, insomnia and muscle weakness. It creates an almost instant addiction. The effects people experience after taking bath salts can be even harder to treat than meth. The drug, which initiates a cocaine-like high, requires massive amounts of sedatives to offset its stimulating effects.

The chemical used in bath salts is methylenedioxypyrovalerone, or MPDV. It is not approved for medical use in the United States. Bath salts can be snorted, injected, or smoked.

American Association of Poison Control Centers said that poison control centers around the US have received 3,470 reports of bath salts in the first half of 2011, up from 303 in 2010.  Bath salts, banned in more than 30 states, are typically sold for $25 to $50 per 50-milligram packet in gas stations and convenience stores. Bath salts were banned in Iowa in 2012.

There are many alternate names for bath salts that parents should know. Get the list. Here's a Parent's Guide to synthetic drugs such as bath salts.


Back to the top


Inhalants are common products that can be found in every home. Because they are inexpensive, accessible and unmonitored by parents, inhalants are among the most popular and deadly substances youth abuse. Teens use inhalants by sniffing or snorting the fumes from containers to produce a high. This high can be obtained by spraying aerosols directly into the mouth or nose; bagging, by inhaling a substance inside a paper or plastic bag; huffing from an inhalant-soaked rag; or inhaling from balloons filled with nitrous oxide. Because intoxication lasts only a few minutes, abusers frequently try to prolong the high by continuing to inhale repeatedly over the course of several hours, a very dangerous practice.

From the Iowa Youth Survey 91% of all Marshalltown students surveyed (6th, 8th,11th grades) said they have never tried sniffing glue, breathing the contents of aerosol spray cans, inhaling any other gases or spray in order to get high.

More than 1,000 different products are commonly abused. These categories of products are among those being abused:

  • Glues/adhesives
  • Nail polish remover
  • Marking pens
  • Paint thinner
  • Spray paint
  • Butane lighter fluid
  • Gasoline
  • Propane gas
  • Typewriter correction fluid
  • Household cleaners
  • Cooking sprays
  • Deodorants
  • Fabric protectors
  • Whipping cream aerosols
  • Air conditioning coolants

More information about inhalants

Back to the top

Salvia (Salvia divinorum) is an herb common to southern Mexico and Central and South America.

The Drug Enforcement Agency has listed salvia as a drug of concern and is considering classifying it as a Schedule I drug, like LSD or marijuana.

Traditionally, salviaisingested by chewing fresh leaves or by drinking their extracted juices. The dried leaves can also be smoked as a joint, consumed in water pipes, or vaporized and inhaled. Although salvia currently is not a drug regulated by the Controlled Substances Act, several States and countries have passed legislation to regulate its use.

More information about salvia

From the Iowa Youth Survey: 98% of Marshalltown students surveyed (6th, 8th, 11th grades) said they had not tried salvia in the past 30 days.

Back to the top

Energy drinks

Up to 50% of American adolescents and young adults use energy drinks. Energy drinks such as Red Bull and Monster, both with high levels of caffeine, sugar and other “energy boosters,” have been around for a while, but there are new energy drinks that contain alcohol as an added ingredient. These products are called Sparks, Bud Extra, Tilt, Four, B to the E. Their packaging is deceiving because they look like a nonalcoholic energy drink. Sparks contains 6% alcohol, which is about twice that of most beers. And they contain 214 mg of caffeine, which is much higher than the content of a nonalcoholic energy drink and all sodas. A major concern is that mixing energy drinks with alcohol can lead to “wide-awake drunkenness” where caffeine masks the feeling of drunkenness. As a result, you feel less drunk than you really are, which can lead to consumption of even more alcohol or engaging in risky activities. The next time you’re in a grocery store, take a minute to read the label about the contents of an energy drink.

More information about energy drinks

Back to the top


Hookahs, staples of Middle Eastern society, are water pipes used to smoke tobacco through a hose with a tapered mouthpiece. There's a myth going around that hookahs are safer because the smoke is cooled when it passes through the water. But a hookah smoker inhales 8 times more carbon monoxide and 36 times more tar in a typical session than someone who smokes 1 cigarette. Hookahs are usually shared, so there's the additional risk from germs being passed around along with the pipe.

Read on to find out some myths and truths about hookahs:

  • Myth: Hookahs are safer because the toxins and tar in the tobacco are filtered out by the water.
  • Truth: Not all the toxins are filtered out. Hookah smoke has high amounts of carbon monoxide, tar, nicotine and heavy metals.
  • Myth: The water-cooled smoke doesn’t damage your lungs or body.
  • Truth: Hookah smoke may feel mild, but it’s still harmful to the lungs, heart and other organs.
  • Myth: When you smoke a hookah, you get less nicotine.
  • Truth: Nicotine contents depends on the tobacco, the pipe and how you smoke. Sometimes you get more nicotine from a hookah.
  • Myth: Hookah smokers don’t get addicted.
  • Truth: Like any tobacco users, hookah smokers can get addicted.
  • Myth: Hookah contains fruit so it’s healthy.
  • Truth: Tobacco is never healthy. The sweet-flavored hookah tobacco can cover up the toxins.
  • Myth: Hookah smokers don’t have the health risks cigarette smokers do.
  • Truth: Hookah smokers develop many of the same serious health problems as cigarette smokers.

Back to the top


Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) contain cancer-causing chemicals and other toxins, including a compound used in antifreeze. These battery-operated devices use cartridges filled with nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals and convert them into a vapor that's inhaled by the user.

E-cigarettes haven't been evaluated or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so they don't have to post the health warnings that nicotine replacement products or conventional cigarettes do. But there's no such thing as a safe nicotine product.

Synthetic Marijuana

According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, synthetic marijuana is now the second most frequently used illicit drug, after marijuana, among high school seniors. These drugs are being labeled as "herbal incense" and are being sold in small packets or pouches in convenience stores, gas stations and over the Internet under such names as K2 and Spice. Synthetic marijuana can cause adverse health effects such as nausea, vomiting, elevated blood pressure, tremors, seizures, racing heartbeat, anxiety, agitation, hallucinations and paranoid behavior. Poison Control Centers across the nation have reported receiving double the number of calls in 2011 compared to 2010 about this drug. For more information go to: Synthetic_Marijuana