Synthetic marijuana on rise among Turkish teenagers, experts warn

July 12, 2012, Thursday/ 11:53:00

The use of synthetic marijuana, more commonly known to the public as “bonzai,” is on the rise among Turkish teenagers, with the rate of synthetic marijuana use among teenagers currently 11.4 percent , experts warn.

A 2011 report prepared by the National Police Department's Anti-smuggling and Organized Crime Bureau (KOM) stated that synthetic marijuana is derived from a green plant like marijuana itself and has a chemical called AM-2201, which can be particularly destructive to the brain. Synthetic marijuana, which was banned as an illegal drug in 2010, is brought to Turkey mostly from Europe, China and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC). In 2011, a total of 48 kilograms of synthetic marijuana were seized in 77 narcotics operations in which 223 suspects were detained.

According to experts, there has been a big increase in the use of drugs among teenagers across the country over the past four years, with 20 percent of drug users who underwent drug rehabilitation in 2011 under the age of 18.

Experts say it is important for parents to watch for any significant changes in a child's physical appearance, personality, attitude or behavior, since recognizing the signs and symptoms of drug abuse early are key to addressing the issue more effectively.

Changes in appetite and sleep patterns, difficulty concentrating, an inability to sleep, hallucinations, unusual laziness, tremors and shakes are among the physical symptoms a drug-using youngster shows.

As for behavioral signs of drug abuse, experts point to decreased motivation, a drop in attendance and performance at school, sudden changes in relationships, friends or hobbies, a loss of interest in family and family activities, borrowing or stealing and an unusual need for money.

Experts say parents should get to know their children's friends and watch for how children spend their money, where they spend their spare time and in what kind of activities they are engaged. Parents are strongly recommended to seek professional help when they think that their children are taking drugs.

Parents should be friends with their children, tolerate their mistakes and direct them to social, cultural and sports activities, according to experts, as loving and caring parents are more likely to prevent their children from resorting to drugs.

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