SNURF: Adorable Name, Deadly Drug

Photo credit Kroma Kromalski

Are you concerned about your kids smoking pot or indulging in other illegal substances? Be warned: There are plenty of other legal substances kids are using to get high…

What a crummy way to start the new school year: Four students from Council Rock High School in Philadelphia were rushed to the hospital after overdosing on an herbal supplement known as “Snurf.” The herbal remedy is just the latest example of kids getting creative with over-the-counter medication. Snurf contains DXM, a drug found in many cough syrups that can act as a hallucinogen if taken in large doses.

Council Rock High School officials issued this warning: “From the information on the packaging, we understand that SNURF is an herbal supplement with mood-altering properties. We strongly recommend that anyone in possession of these pills dispose of them immediately.”

How did the kids get their hands on the Snurf? Simple. They bought it on the Internet.

Kids aren’t just playing World of Warcraft on their computers, they’re using it for truly deadly games, too–and finding ways to get high has never been easier for kids. Typing in “ways to get high” into Google garners results entries such as “New Ways To Get High: For Kids,” “Homemade Ways to get High When You’re Outta Weed,” and a message board titled, “What are legal ways to get high?”. One such recourse,, claims that their product has “the similar effects of real extacy [sic] without the risks!” The site, possibly the Snurf supplier for the boys in Philly, is not currently accepting orders.

For parents trying to impart the danger of drugs like marijuana and cocaine to their kids, it might be difficult to teach them that other forms of getting high are equally as dangerous. “The attitude among many teens is that stuff they can get from a medicine cabinet or at the grocery store isn’t risky, isn’t addictive and doesn’t have any downside,” says Steve Pasierb, president of Partnership for a Drug-Free America. “The abuse will continue until teens understand that all medications–even those that are FDA-approved–can be dangerous.”

Kids coming up with creative ways to get high is nothing new–huffing markers, glue and spray paint has been going on for years. “Robotrippin,” a.k.a. drinking a large amount of Robitussin, is one of the most common teen abuses. But there are others–and some are in your own house or local “health food” store.

Here are few ways kids are getting high on the sly:


Called the “new LSD,” Salvia Divinorum is legal in all but eight states. Salvia Divinorum is a Mexican herb that’s being packaged as “incense,” but kids smoke or chew it like tobacco to get high. Its leaves can also be boiled to make an intoxicating tea. The effects include hallucinations, out-of-body experiences, unconsciousness and short-term memory loss.


Some kids have raided the spice rack and are smoking nutmeg, which can cause hallucinations, visual distortions and a mild euphoria. Large doses are dangerous–potentially inducing convulsions, palpitations, nausea, eventual dehydration and generalized body pain.


Another chilling way to get high? Kids are using the Freon from air-conditioner units to get high by placing a plastic bag over their head. Then they fill the bag with Freon gas. It’s heavier than oxygen–so it forces the oxygen out of the bag, leaving only the dangerous gas. The long-term effects include damage to the liver, kidneys, lungs and brain.


Reuters reported that two teens in France were hospitalized for “huffing” mothballs. The term “bagging” has been used to describe the habit. Experts said the high is short-lived–making it easy for kids because it wears off quickly. Another reason kids are using mothballs is because they are accessible, easy to find and are in many homes. The effects of this practice are staggering: Mental impairment, loss of coordination and scaly skin may be symptoms of mothball abuse.

So how can you steer your kid away from drug experimentation? “It’s hard,” says teen expert and psychologist Dr. Lisa Boesky, author of When to Worry: How to Tell If Your Teen Needs Help–And What to Do About It, “It’s a time of experimentation and risk-taking–and you can’t be with your kid 24/7.” But, says Dr. Boesky, there are steps you can take:

Educate, educate, educate

Be clear on what’s off-limits. Explain to them that they shouldn’t take any pills–herbal, prescription or over-the counter without your permission. Do your best to educate on the permanent damage these substances can do when taken in large doses.

Don’t just say no to drugs–ask why

Just saying no often won’t get them to stop–find out why they’re doing it will. Are they looking for a thrill? Are they trying to escape negative emotions, a stressful home life or struggles at school? If so, what steps can you take to help make their lives more manageable?

Avoid the three most dangerous words: Not my kid.

When it comes to drugs, burying your head in the sand is not the answer. Parents who refuse to believe kids are doing drugs might be in for a terrible surprise. Not only do you have to educate your kids, you also have to educate yourself. Parents should always keep one step ahead of their kids when it comes to teen drug trends.

This article originally appeared at and is reposted with permission of

Photo credit: Kroma Kromalski

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