It seems there is always something out there, worrisome ways teens try to get their hands on alcohol. The latest trend that should be on your radar is liquor laced candy. It's a trend that's gaining popularity thanks to the internet, yet experts warn - it's really not that sweet.
A quick online search seems too easy, and the marketing makes it seem harmless. But the reality is - vodka-soaked gummy bears can be dangerous.
"Every time I go to a different party, there's always something new that has candy or juice in it," says a Texas Tech student, who asked we keep her identity anonymous. She described the party, when she first tried vodka gummy bears.
"They were just like, passing them out in a big tray," she says. "They were in tiny cups."
She says the recipe is already picking up popularity on campus.
"I was pretty excited just to taste it and see what everyone was talking about."
The candy absorbs the alcohol it's soaked in, and that's where it gets worrisome. The taste of alcohol disappears, and is replaced by sweet sugar.
"The problem is, that you have no idea how much they've really consumed," says Dr. Jonathan Skelton, the medical director for Covenant Health's Emergency Department.
Dr. Skelton estimates each gummy bear, to hold about half a shot of liquor.
"If there were 10 gummy bears in that one little cup, I know some of my friends had multiple cups," says the Tech student we interviewed. "I can only imagine how much was in there."
Alcohol poisoning is a big risk. And while the problem hasn't hit Dr. Skelton's ER just yet, he says the trend is on his radar.
"They're essentially odorless," Dr. Skelton says. "Undetectable to mom and dad and school -- anybody else."
Dr. Skelton says teens are prone to abusing something like this. They may think they can eat it right under their parents' nose, or even go so far as to sneak it into school.
We talked to Lubbock and Frenship ISD. At LISD, we're told it's up to each teacher whether or not they allow food in class. But what's brought in is monitored.
And Frenship ISD says district police are on alert.
"Stuff that tasted like apple, anything that tasted like candy -- that was easy for them to drink," says an Abernathy father who spoke to us, under the condition of anonymity.
Of course, masking the taste of alcohol is nothing new. But for this dad, who also asked we hide his identity - the risk remains the same.
He says when his teen started drinking; he worried most about anything sweet. And he says the danger comes from when kids try to hide what they're doing, like with these gummy bears.
"I've always had the policy that as my kid got older, I'd be very open with her," he says.
Dr. Skelton says that's the key to dealing with any underage drinking situation. You have to talk to your kids, and you have to do it early. He says hopes an open dialogue, will keep kids out of his ER. And maybe even keep the entire trend, off the South Plains.
"This will get bigger, and it will continue to grow throughout the country," says Dr. Skelton. "You'll hear more and more stories about this."
Parents, a few things to look for:
Vodka soaked gummy bears will be about double the size of a regular one. They will also be slimy. And quite frankly, if your teen suddenly takes an interest in gummy candy, then by all means - ask questions. And take another look at when and where they're consuming them.
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