We have all heard about teen ingesting detergent pods as a game and then ending up in the local emergency room. Just like with these everyday household items, there are other dangers lurking in your own home and as a parent you must always be on the lookout.

While you cannot protect your children from all the bad things that can be found in today’s world, you can certainly do so in your own home and not only that, but you can make sure your kids are aware of all the dangers they can find in everyday items that are used for cleaning or to fight a bad cold.


There is a reason why pharmacies have been offering childproof dispensers for their medication for decades. While you may think that the taste alone will keep someone who wants to experiment with household items, away from a dangerous item, think again. One of the many dangers of household highs is that these products are laced with chemicals that can be devastating for the body and can produce serious side effects, including death and manufacturers have come under intense criticism for making these dangerous items, look appealing to children.

To protect your children from accidentally ingesting household products or from trying to achieve a high from any of these substances, we will review some important information about household highs and how you can reduce the dangers these products pose to your family.

Over-the-Counter Medications

Perhaps one of the most common household items kids use to get high, are over-the-counter medications that are left unattended. Your medicine cabinet should be locked, and the key put away in a place that only you know about. To avoid legal drug overdoses with medications, no medicine should be left unattended and any doses that your child needs to receive due to a medical procedure or other circumstance, should be administered by a responsible adult.

These are some medications that can be easily abused and can result in an addiction:

  • Cough medicine – it contains dextromethorphan or DXM and is one of the most abused household items and their effect can last up to six-hours. The federal government has instituted some forms of protection for consumers and if you go to a pharmacy or grocery store to buy cough medicine, you will be required to present an identification. However, this does not seem to affect the rates in which this household item gets abused.

  • Allergy medicine – antihistamines are another popular household high because of the sedative effect these drugs have on a person. People who abuse allergy medicine find an even bigger high by mixing it with Valium or Xanax.

  • Cold medicine – that contain the stimulant pseudoephedrine are popular because of the hallucinogenic properties of this medication and the intense high it produces in the body.

  • Motion sickness medicine – is made with dimenhydrinate which, in high doses, can cause hallucinations, nausea or vomiting, seizures, and even death.

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Using Prescription Medications to Get High

We have all heard in the news about the opioid crisis affecting the country. In some cases, a person gets addicted to opioids after they start to take the drug following surgery or when it’s prescribed to control pain. If you have a prescription opioid in your home, you need to keep a very close eye on it and make sure all your pills are there. A good way to do this is by using a pill box, where you place the medication for each day of the week in a container, which allows you to know how many tablets you have left at all times. Having a bottle of medicine sitting on the kitchen counter can be a problem if you have teenagers.

Using Cleaning Supplies to Get High

Cleaning supplies have become another favorite go-to household high for many kids in recent years. The less-than-pleasant taste in these products, doesn’t seem to be a deterrent for teens who try to use these products to get high.

  • Tide POD – this “challenge” that started in 2012, is a game that involves ingesting a laundry or dishwasher detergent POD because the packaging makes them look fun for kids.

  • Inhalants – using inhalants, also called dusting or huffing are some of the most dangerous household highs a child can get involved in because they can cause Sudden Death Syndrome. Popular inhalants abused by teens are: computer cleaners, aerosol fresheners, canned whipped cream, helium, mothballs, and propane.

Using Certain Foods to Get High

Believe it or not, those seeking to use household items to get high can find what they’re looking for in your pantry. Yes, certain foods, when ingested in large amounts, can be used to get high.

  • Nutmeg – contains myristicin, which is a hallucinogenic and some users report ingesting up to five-teaspoons of nutmeg to get high. It can also be snorted. The effects can last for several days and include vomiting, diarrhea, and an accelerated heart rate.

  • Cinnamon – around 2012, there was a popular game among teens called the “Cinnamon Challenge” which originated with a YouTube video. Trying to swallow one tablespoon of cinnamon without water can be next to impossible and can also trigger coughing attacks that can result in a choking hazard.

  • Vanilla extract – it can contain up to 40-percent ethanol in some cases, similar to that found in some hard liquor.

Other Dangerous Household Items

  • Hand sanitizer – this product is abused by teens for its alcohol content. One bottle of hand sanitizer is comparable to five-shots of spirits.

  • Mouthwash – it contains alcohol, so teens try to get drunk by ingesting large quantities of it. Mouthwash is an ideal product to abuse because the breath smells fresh and a parent would never suspect that anything is wrong.

  • Nail polish remover

  • Spray paint

How to Detect Household Highs?

Children and teens usually start household highs as a game or challenge with their friends, thinking that because it is something readily available nothing serious will happen. This notion could not be farther from the truth and herein lies the danger of ingesting these products, even if it is only once.

You know your kids and their behavior so how can you detect if they have overdosed on a household product? The most obvious signs that something is wrong are dilated pupils, slurred speech, changed motor skills, such as balance, sweating or flushed skin. Other warning signs of substance abuse or addiction can be:

  • Mood swings,

  • Change in personality,

  • Irritability,

  • Loss of interest in personal hygiene,

  • Loss of appetite,

  • Anxiety and depression.

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The Risk from Household Highs

Many kids think that because they’re not buying illegal drugs on the streets or ordering them online, there won’t be consequences from their household highs. In most cases, abusing a household item can have long-term health effects on the body, as well as affecting the mental health of the person who is abusing the cleaning product or food. Other side effects of abusing household items to get high include:

  • Poor academic performance

  • Mental health problems

  • Relationship difficulties

  • Legal problems

What Can You Do to Protect Your Children?

With all the options kids have, to get high in their own home with every day products, it can sound overwhelming for parents. However, the best thing you can do is to keep a close eye on your medicine cabinet and cleaning supplies. If you suspect something is wrong, address the problem immediately. Teens are going through a difficult time with all the hormonal changes in their bodies, and in many cases, they want to see what something feels like, but they must be aware of the dangers in ingesting household items to get high.

It is important to have that conversation with your kids and explain in clear terms why it is not acceptable to use any of these products orally, unless prescribed by a physician for treatment of an illness. The child must also understand that chemicals found in cleaning products can harm the body in many ways and sometimes cause death, even if it’s the first time trying it.

Abusing household items can not only cause devastating effects to the mind and body, but can land someone in the hospital or even dead. Parents need to be aware of the risks that are lurking in their own homes and if they notice any strange behavior on the part of their tweens or teens, they should address them without delay. In some cases, the child will need professional help and that is when we come in.

At Chapters Capistrano, we can customize a treatment plan for any age and if you have a teen that is using household products to get high, we can help you by evaluating them and designing a personalized treatment that will address all their needs. We are only a phone call or email away, you can also chat with one of our staff members while on our site and we can direct you to the best person that can help you address your situation.

Want more information about how Chapters Capistrano can help? Feel free to call 949-276-2886 and one of our addiction specialists will help get the information and help you need.

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