Kind of Drugs Look Like Candy
When the FDA banned flavored cigarettes in 2009, they did so because these candy-flavored drugs provided a special appeal to children, who could become addicted after trying them. But candy-like flavors such as chocolate, cherry, and strawberry aren’t just a danger in the tobacco industry. In fact, drugs hidden or cooked into candies are on the rise – and it’s no coincidence that this is happening when teen drug use has been on a slow decline since the mid to late nineties.
Drugs cooked into candy or smuggled in candy wrappers present a triple threat:
First, candy-like drugs lower the perception of risk. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, teen drug use goes up when the perception of risk associated with those drugs goes down. We can see this today with rising rates of marijuana use among teens, as marijuana has been legalized in Colorado and Washington and the medical marijuana debate has taken hold in a number of other states.
When a drug comes in candy form – for example, the marijuana which is cooked into hard candies, sometimes even packaged with “Stoney Rancher” wrappers as an attempt at humor or thumbing one’s nose to authority – it’s difficult to believe that it can have adverse effects. Drugs may also come in a form like powdered candy (similar to Pixie Sticks), which are easy to ingest and can deliver a strong hit without users necessarily being aware of how much they’ve taken.
Second, kind of drugs that look like candy arouse less suspicion from authority figures. It’s not uncommon to watch a teen or a child eat a candy bar or suck on a lollipop, and these innocuous, child-like activities can pass undetected. Candy-like drugs can be carried and used in plain sight. In fact, this isn’t the only way that drugs can use snack foods as disguises: users may hide drugs inside of soda bottles, and even smugglers have shipped drugs into the country stuffed into candy wrappers.
While it may be easy to hide the individual moments of drug use when drugs come camouflaged in candy, the effects are more difficult to conceal. But this, in turn, can drive users to find more and better ways of hiding their drugs and drug use from observers, and when combined with the psychological reward of candy and sugary treats, this can intensify the addiction.
Third, and most perniciously, kind of drugs that look like candy can be given to others without their awareness or consent. While the stories of drugged or altered Halloween candy that circulate every year are largely urban legends, exposure to illicit drugs at parties and in peer-pressure situations are sadly not. Drugs baked into brownies and served at a party can dose an entire unsuspecting crowd, and candy handed off to a friend in a casual encounter can introduce them to drugs without their awareness. Predatory peers can use this to hook children no matter their stance on experimenting with drugs.
Candy-flavored drugs have a single purpose: to make drug use more appealing. Fighting against drug use and abuse requires awareness of the dangers and support for those facing them, whether that means people in an environment where drugs are being pushed or people navigating their own recovery from addiction.
National Addiction and Mental Health Helpline at The Treatment Specialist, call 866-644-7911.