Attention parents! Teens making a homebrewed high

By Christel Phillips - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Parents listen up! This story concerns you and your family. Teens are now getting high with items that could be located in your kitchen or local grocery store.

Poppy seeds used to brew tea. It's a home brew that's already illegal, and, in some cases, lethal. A Texas teen has died from the dangerous drink.

It's a growing trend, teens and young adults are brewing poppy seeds and pods to make a tea that will create hallucinations and a feeling of relaxation.

"They've been used for thousands of years to produce both narcotic effects and also medicinally," explained Dr. Donald Pratt, a Biology Professor, for Stephen F. Austin State University.

The small seeds contain powerful chemicals that have deadly effects.

"In that seed is a milky juice called latex, and latex is full of chemicals," said Dr. Pratt. "Those chemicals are some you may have seen at the hospital they include codeine, and morphine."

The morphine and codeine found in those seeds are enough to kill some if consumed at extremely high levels. That's exactly what happened to a Texas teen that died from drinking poppy seed tea.

The teen was apparently steeping the seeds into what appeared to be a "natural herbal tea."

Coroners ruled his cause of death as "morphine intoxication." Police say they did not find any signs of morphine but they did find a bottle of tea, and poppy seeds and pods.

Back in 2003 another teen from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, died apparently from the same thing. The parents of that teen created a web site,, warning about dangerous and deadly effects of the home brewed high. The deadly concoction, is shocking to some parents.

Mike Shurley, who has a pre-teen and teenager, says hearing about the tea high, is an eye opener.

"Its definitely alarming," Shurley added. "It's something else to be worried about."

Shurley feels this is another reason why parents need to communicate with their kids.

"Maintain an open relationship with them and let them know that they can come and talk to you about anything," he said.

Shurley feels that parents should try to keep up with what their kids are doing.

"You still have to go behind them and check on things," he said. "The internet is just littered with information and bad information out there for them."

Parents should also pay attention to the warning signs.

"A teenager bringing poppy seeds into the house number one, should be a red flag," Shurley said.

Even though the small seed could otherwise be a harmless ingredient it could take a fatal turn.

"There are so many unknowns that you're really playing with fire," said Dr. Pratt. "It would be very dangerous, to do something like that."

Since there are small traces of morphine and codeine found in the seeds, a person would have to brew nearly three and half pounds to feel any of the effects.

In the United States it is legal to purchase poppy seeds, but all other parts of the plant are considered a schedule II controlled substance under the federal Controlled Substance Act of 1970.

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