Synthetic marijuana -- K2 and its chemical analogues -- is the scary-new-drug du jour in Dallas, having sent somewhere close to 100 users to local emergency rooms in the past week.
Even scarier: This represents a spike of only 50 percent. Baylor alone treats 70 fake-weed overdoses per month.
Parkland hospital's North Texas Poison Center would like to take the opportunity to remind you of other potentially lethal substances: cinnamon, nutmeg and marshmallows.
"If you have teens in your house, it's essential to keep an eye on your spice rack!" the center warned in an email "Poison Alert" dispatched yesterday.
Young people, whose penchant for making terrible decisions and finding innovative ways to get high has been amplified by the Internet, have managed to these workaday foodstuffs into killers.
Danger No. 1: The Cinnamon Challenge It's the subject of tens of thousands of YouTube videos and a dour New York Times article, in which challengers attempt to eat a spoonful of ground cinnamon.
"The concern with the Cinnamon Challenge is that the cinnamon quickly dries out the mouth, making swallowing difficult," the NTPC writes. "As a result, teens who engage in this activity often choke and vomit, injuring their mouths, throats and lungs. Those with asthma and other respiratory conditions have suffered more serious consequences. Teens who accidentally breathe the cinnamon into their lungs also risk getting pneumonia as a result."
Danger No. 2: Nutmeg "Kids are also snorting, smoking and eating large quantities of nutmeg to produce a marijuana-like high."
There is plenty of evidence of this, too, on YouTube:
Nutmeg will, for the record, get you high. It contains myristicin, a hallucinogenic compound used as a precursor for Ecstasy. But it also causes "anxiety, dizziness, confusion, headache, hallucinations, seizures, stupor, nausea, vomiting, excessive thirst, double vision, chest pressure, numbness, coma and even death," according to NTPC. "In pregnant women, the spice has been known to induce abortion."
Danger No. 3: Chubby Bunny Stuffing as many marshmallows in your mouth as possible while repeating the phrase "Chubby Bunny" seems like fun and games -- until you die. "At least" two kids have choked to death on marshmallows, NTPC reports.
North Texas Poison Control spokeswoman Charise Thomason says the agency frequently fields calls, particularly about the cinnamon challenge. There hasn't been a noticeable spike in calls or emergency room visits, at least not that Thomason is aware of, but the agency felt the need to issue a proactive alert.
"Our thinking behind [the alert] is teenagers are about to be out of school for the summer," she says. It's only a matter of time before they get their hands on some cinnamon.
The clear takeaway from this is that you should keep children in a protective womb (larger than but similar to the real thing) until they turn 65.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.
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