Teen Deaths Caused by Drugs

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 9:53 AM, September 25th, 2017
synthetic marijuana

Teens often believe that they are invulnerable.
Teen deaths are sometimes caused by drugs which are considered less dangerous. These stories illustrate rare but possible deadly consequences of drug use.

Synthetic Cannabis

Synthetic marijuana products, such as K2 and Spice, are very dangerous. Karen Dobner, the mother of an Aurora, IN teen spoke out after her son, Max, took iAroma, which she believes was responsible for his death. Dobner reported that Max told his older brother that he and a friend had purchased the product. A few hours later, Max experienced hallucinations and paranoia. He ultimately drove up to 100 MPH and crashed fatally into a house.

The teens were using iAroma, a product sold legally as potpourri, as synthetic marijuana. These products can cause hallucinations, rapid heart beats, and panic attacks.

Karen Dobner has become a passionate advocate. She speaks regularly to schools and works with legislatures to try to make these drugs illegal. Many synthetic marijuana products have recently become illegal, as lawmakers learn about the dangers and try to dissuade teens from using.

These manufacturers are coming out with a new chemical a week, and none of them have been tested. I tell these kids ‘you are the lab rats to these drug dealers.’

Karen Dobner

Until recently, there were not any drug tests available to see if teens were using these products. ASAP is able to offer a test for some synthetic cannabinoids. Although these products are sometimes still legal, they are addictive and harmful to the health of adolescents.


Ashley Long, a 14 year old from Oregon, died after inhaling helium at a party. She told her parents she was going to a slumber party, but went to a condo where alcohol and marijuana were being supplied to the teens.

The teens drank on the drive over to the party and more once they arrived at the condo. The teens also began inhaling helium, a common party trick, to induce a high and make their voices sound high pitched. Ashley’s friends report that she was pressured into inhaling directly from the helium tank.

Inhaling helium is especially dangerous when done from a pressurized tank. In Ashley’s case, she died of an air embolism. This is similar to what can happen to scuba divers who surface too quickly. A gas bubble gets into the bloodstream and can block blood flow to the brain, causing a stroke.

Guests called 911, but although rescuers performed CPR, they could not revive Ashley. The older sister of one of the party-goers provided the group with the location and supplied alcohol and marijuana. She has been charged with providing these substances to minors. Ashley’s family has set up a foundation, Ashley’s Hope, to spread the word about the dangers of inhaling helium.

Pennsylvania Teen Dies From Plastic Fumes After Smoking Spice

A Pennsylvania eighth-grader who became ill after smoking synthetic marijuana has died following an unsuccessful double lung transplant. The 13 year old boy smoked the fake marijuana out of a plastic PEZ candy dispenser. The chemicals in the drugs and from the plastic caused extensive damage to his lungs. He was put on a respirator in June and had double lung transplant surgery in September.

The anti-rejection drugs he had taken since the transplant surgery weakened his immune system and made him unable to fight his recent infection. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed the law banning such substances in his state just days after the boy smoked the substance. The ban took effect in August. Ohio passed similar legislation, which has since taken effect.



ASAP is Cincinnati’s premiere outpatient treatment center for teenagers and their families struggling with substance use.


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