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Gateway Foundation cautions parents on 'legal drugs'

May 25, 2011
by News release
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Chicago—As summer approaches and teens are out of school, Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment reminds parents that a variety of drugs are readily available to teenagers if they want them, even legal "drugs." Controversial products called bath salts and Lazy Cakes currently are legally for sale via the Internet and in outlets like convenience stores, tobacco shops and truck stops.

Bath salts are a powder-like substance described as "fake cocaine" and it is snorted, injected and smoked. The substance most commonly added to the bath salt compound is the stimulant mephedrone (MDVP).

Some abusers of bath salts describe the effects as similar to methamphetamine, ecstasy, and cocaine. To date, ten states have outlawed bath salts. While Illinois is moving to ban the product, parents should be aware that the products are still legal in Illinois.

To mellow out, teens can buy a brownie called Lazy Cakes. Loaded with more than chocolate—the active ingredient is melatonin. With four times the recommended adult dosage of melatonin, these brownies can cause respiratory depression and other serious health issues.

Since Lazy Cakes are sold in the grocery aisle of stores, some buyers think they are purchasing a normal brownie, unaware of its side affects. Once eaten, a person feels lazy, sleepy and even sleeps for extended hours.

"Conversations are one of the most powerful tools parents can use to combat teen drug and alcohol use. But figuring out what to say can be a tough challenge," explains Dr. Brittany Ottino, Clinical Psychologist, Gateway Foundation. "Parents need to let their teens know substances like bath salts and Lazy Cakes are dangerous, even though they can be bought at a convenience store and are not yet considered illegal."

Tips for engaging in conversation

  • When talking to a child about teenager drug use, parents should listen and respect what their teen has to say. These are conversations parents should revisit many times over the years; if teens shut down initially, it may be more difficult for them to open up later. Refrain from judging, just listen.

  • Parents need to make clear to their children that drinking and using drugs is unacceptable. It is important to let them know these concerns stem from love. Establish clear boundaries and expectations.

  • Many substances, even if they are not considered illegal, can have serious affects on brain and body functions. Research the facts together with your teenager and discuss laws, repercussions and health issues related to using drugs, alcohol and other substances even if they may seem harmless.

  • If a child is ambivalent to talking about drug use and alcohol, parents should consider seeking professional help. It is important to address substance abuse early on before one's health is affected or anything bad happens. If help is needed, the substance abuse specialists at Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment are available to coach parents through tough conversations.

For more information about facts on teen substance abuse, a free parent toolkit 'What's A Parent To Do?' is available online at For a free and confidential substance abuse consultation, call Gateway at 877-321-RECOVER (877-321-7326).

About Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment
Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment is Illinois' largest provider of substance abuse treatment, providing services for adolescents and adults at treatment centers throughout the state. As an organization, Gateway Foundation has treated over 425,000 people and currently helps more than 29,000 individuals a year reclaim productive healthy lives.

For more information, visit