10 most dangerous teen fads
From taking death-defying walks high above the ground to ingesting potentially lethal substances in dangerous ways to riding atop speeding vehicles, some teens will stop at nothing for a thrill. Beyond simple fun and games, the following potentially deadly teen antics have made the news recently.
--By Linda Melone for MSN Healthy Living
Originating in Russia, skywalking refers to an act where teens scale high buildings and structures without safety equipment and then photograph themselves at the pinnacle. Clearly not for those with a fear of heights, the craze took off when19-year-old Russian student and photographer Marat Dupri began climbing onto rooftops to capture sky-high views. This past April, a gust of wind swept five skywalking teens to their death as they attempted to climb in the Chernobyl exclusion zone. "Teenagers are constantly finding new ways to test limits within themselves and their environment, often experimenting with risky activities," says Dr. Dean Leav, a licensed psychologist specializing in children and teens in Orange County, Calif. This one could easily have a deadly outcome.
This disturbing act of ingesting alcohol through the rectum is also known as an alcohol enema. The teen "chugs" the alcohol through a tube or hose in an effort to get intoxicated quickly and efficiently. Several dangers exist, says Dr. Morris Silver, a gastroenterologist at Tri-City Regional Medical Center in Hawaiian Gardens, Calif. "The physical act can cause local and long-term damage to the sphincter with a risk of infection." In addition, Silver says, the method increases the risk of toxicity versus ingesting the alcohol orally, since the stomach normally breaks down some of the alcohol. Butt chugging also eliminates the body's natural reaction to copious amounts of alcohol. "You're likely get sick before you reach lethal limits if you drink it," says Silver. Plus, the lack of alcohol on the breath may delay treatment.
"Surfing" while standing on the roof or hood of a car while a buddy drives at 40 mph can land a teen in the hospital with irreversible injuries, says Dr. Babak Sarani, an associate professor of surgery and the director of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. "In some cases they fall off the car and the car runs over them." Head injuries are the most common result Sarani sees in the trauma unit, although other car-surfing teens with less serious injuries end up in the emergency room. "Speed combined with the injury makes it worse," says Sarani, who sees approximately one type a month during the warmer months when the activity becomes more popular. Injuries can be devastating and involve serious brain injuries, far beyond a concussion, says Sarani. Most victims range in age from 16 years old up to their early 20s.
This new version of Russian Roulette begins with teens raiding their parent's medicine cabinets for whatever prescription and over-the-counter pills they can find. They bring the pills to the party and mix them together into shot glasses or other cups and take them all at once, to see the effect. The combinations may include Oxycontin, Percocet, Valium and Xanax. "The dangers are tremendous," says Raskin. "In addition to seizures, respiratory depression, and death, one could be allergic to a pill and go into shock, or it could be the combination of one or more pills with alcohol that could lead to additive effects and death." Numerous recent news reports link pill parties to teens suffering from irreparable organ damage and even death.
Pouring a shot of vodka directly into the eye, a practice known as vodka eyeballing, is not only an inefficient way to get drunk but could cause serious eye damage and even blindness, says Dr. Ivan R. Schwab, a cornea specialist, professor of ophthalmology at the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine and a clinical correspondent with the American Academy of Ophthalmology. "Pouring vodka directly into his eye risks damaging the surface epithelial cells - often causing pain and infection. More seriously, it's rare but 'eyeballing' can also lead to permanent vision damage by killing endothelial cells in deeper layers of the eye's cornea." Eyeballers do not even get the quick high they seek because of the small volume of vodka absorbed by the conjunctiva and cornea, says Schwab.
This slang term refers to a recreational drug popularized by the hip-hop community. Ingredients vary but typically contain a combination of prescription-strength cough syrup containing promethazine (an antihistamine) and codeine (an opiate), along with Sprite, 7-Up or grape soda and purple Jolly Rancher candies. "The combination can slow respiration," says Dr. Damon Raskin, a board-certified internist specializing in addiction detoxification at the Cliffside Malibu Treatment Center in Malibu, Calif. "If teens combine it with another central nervous system depressant like alcohol they could pass out or stop breathing." Raskin says teens often get the cough medicine from their parents' medicine cabinet. Pauviera Linson, a 14-year-old girl from St. Paul, Minn., is believed to have died from drinking the mixture in August of this year, according to news reports.
Drinking hand sanitizer
As a potent source of alcohol, hand sanitizer enables teens to get a quick buzz -- and it can be lethal. "Hand sanitizer is 60 percent alcohol," says Raskin. "So instead of taking a few shots of tequila or going through the hassle of finding other alcohol, teens have to ingest only a small amount of hand sanitizer to get drunk." Some inventive teens even find a way to separate the alcohol from the rest of the chemicals and end up with pure alcohol. Since hand sanitizer is readily available in grocery stores, their parents don't usually catch on, says Raskin. "Teens can easily get alcohol poisoning this way. They should get to the ER and into a rehab program if they show an alcohol dependency."
Salt and ice challenge
As a practice that makes rubbing salt into an open wound sound like child's play, the salt and ice challenge creates true frostbite, says Dr. Debra Jaliman, a New York-based dermatologist and the author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist (St. Martin's Press, 2012). The challenge involves wetting the skin, putting salt on it and then applying an ice cube with pressure that creates a burning sensation. Adding salt to ice lowers the temperature of the skin, making it colder than the normal freezing temperature of water, 32 degrees Fahrenheit. The mixture causes frostbite by soaking up heat from the surrounding skin cells. "It does terrible damage to the skin and is very painful," says Jaliman. "It causes frostbite and second degree cold burns with blistering, possible scarring and potentially a secondary infection from the opening in the skin."
Also known as Spice, Skunk, Yucatan Fire and Moon Rocks, synthetic marijuana refers to a wide variety of herbal mixtures containing psychoactive ingredients from a number of different plants, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. It ranks second only to marijuana in usage among high school seniors. "It contains the active ingredients of marijuana synthesized from other chemicals so you get a similar high," says Raskin. Spice used to be widely available and sold in gas stations and head shops, but it's now banned and deemed as illegal as marijuana itself, so it's harder to obtain. "We don't know exactly what's in it, so we don't understand the full dangers, but we know that teens can get into a car accident as if they're drunk or stoned on the real marijuana," says Raskin.