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A resource to start the conversation
about drug use and abuse.
Other Risks

.::: The HOT 3

Not all drugs and harmful substances are sold in schools,
back alleys or on street corners.

These substances — what we call the "Hot 3" — are the most commonly used, next to alcohol, and can be found in convenience stores, garages, under the sink or your own medicine cabinet.

#1 - Medicine

Medicine cabinets are a cheap and easy source of highly addictive medicines containing opiates/opioids (such as Percocet®, Tylenol® with codeine, and oxyNeo®), amphetamines (such as Ritalin®) and muscle-relaxants (Valium®). Kids take these medicines for the euphoric, "warm and fuzzy" feelings they cause.

The Hot 3

Prescription drugs containing opiates or opioids are now one of the top drugs used by Ontario teens. In children, even over-the-counter medicines like Gravol® and cough syrups can cause the same effects as illegal drugs.

You can lessen the chance of your child's abusing medicine by:

  • Moving medicines from your bathroom cabinet to a place where only you have access.
  • Returning your unused and expired prescription medications to the pharmacy or dispose of them at your local hazardous waste disposal centre.

For more information about your children's safety at home, click here.

#2- High-energy drinks

High-energy drinks look like pop or sports drinks. Red Bull ®, Rockstar® and Full Throttle® are popular brands.

Energy drinks contain high levels of caffeine and herbal supplements. Users feel awake and full of energy, then "crash" when the effect of the caffeine wears off.

While a reasonable amount of caffeine is safe, heavy caffeine use over time can:

  • Affect how long and how well you sleep. Heavy caffeine users often can't sleep because the nervous system is over-stimulated.
  • Cause "caffeine nerves'": a jittery feeling with shaking hands, heart palpitations, and wobbliness in the legs.
  • Result in caffeine addiction with symptoms such as nervousness, irritability, agitation, headaches or ringing in the ears.

Get Peel's Food and Beverage information

The Hot 3

Get more information on energy drinks

High energy drinks combined with alcohol can be especially dangerous. Caffeine can mask the effect of the alcohol, so a user might not feel drunk. This can lead to risky behaviours such as drinking and driving and unsafe sex.

#3 - Inhalants

Some consumer products with chemical solvents, vapours or gases — such as gasoline, hairspray, permanent markers and paint thinners — aren't always used the way they should be.

Some kids pour these products — known as "inhalants" — into a plastic bag (or onto a rag) then breathe in the fumes to get high.

While Grade 8 kids use inhalants the most, inhalant use can start at a much earlier age.

Inhalants are very dangerous. The high they produce lasts only a few minutes, but they can cause brain damage, addiction and even death.

Many inhalants are easy for kids to find at home. Be sure your kids understand that these products should be used only as directed. If they're used in any other way, they can cause serious injury or even death.


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Revised: April 22, 2016


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