Children eating flower seeds to get high

By Debbie Strauss - Special Projects Producer, Owen Conflenti - Anchor

HOUSTON - The 1960s brought us tie-dye and sit-ins. Hippies smoked marijuana and tripped on acid.

It was peace, love and flower power.

Fast-forward to today and flower power has sprouted again.

Teenagers and young adults are eating flower seeds to get high.

Wendy Williams works at Buchanan's Native Plants in the Heights.

At Buchanan's they sell trees, plants and garden knickknacks.

Plus veggies and lots of seeds for planting, like morning glory.

"We have heavenly blue," said Williams. "It's a flower, it's a beautiful flower, it can vine up pretty much anything."

But, as a seed, people have been eating it for generations -- to get a hallucinogenic high.

Dr. William Clay Brown is the Medical Director of Adolescent Services at Memorial Hermann Prevention and Recovery Center.

"They actually do contain a tiny amount of a chemical that is closely related to LSD," said Brown.

Brown warns parents that hard drugs aren't the only dangerous substance kids are willing to try.

"Most kids today, it's not one substance like cocaine or alcohol or marijuana," Brown said. "Most of them are doing more than one substance to get high."

With these seeds, users will ingest high amounts with serious consequences.

"You usually go through a pretty severe period -- an hour or two of vomiting, nausea, feeling pretty bad," said Brown. "They may be doing something crazy, drive, jump off a cliff, think they can fly."

Despite the scary side effects, kids are still trying flower seeds and they know where to find them.

"They sell them at Walmart. They sell them at hardware stores, seed shops," Brown said.

And of course you can order them on the internet. KPRC 2 ordered a package right to our newsroom.

Parents need to check their children's internet search and purchase history -- looking for odd transactions.

"The problem with the ones you buy there is they are coated ... because they're not meant for consumption ... with insecticide and mercury-containing compounds to preserve them," said Brown.

The consequences -- we're not just talking about a bad trip.

"Can be toxic in large amounts, large amounts. They can actually cause heart problems, paralysis, stroke-like symptoms. Pretty severe stuff, vein restriction," said Brown. "They can put you in the emergency room," added Brown.

We checked with the Texas Department of State Health Services. Between 2000-2017 there have been 71 cases of morning glory abuse reported to the Texas Poison Control Network.

The majority involve children.

And it's happening at school -- eight of those cases were called in from a campus.

In Massachusetts, Home Depot pulled the seeds off store shelves.

Several students in the region were hospitalized.

"I think it's crazy, I really do," said Williams. "It never occurred to me I would have to tell like perhaps a teenager or young adult you know, you really shouldn't be doing it."

What are the warning signs that your child could be getting high?

KPRC 2 sat down with Dr. William Clay Brown, the Medical Director of Adolescent Services at Memorial Hermann Prevention and Recovery Center. He said to watch out for changes in behavior.

"The most important things with adolescents is knowing your child," said Brown. "People talk about helicopter parents and hovering parents. As far as I'm concerned, hover and helicopter. Monitor your kid. Know where he or she is going, what they are doing. Who they are spending the night with. Who their friends are. Get into their social media. That way you'll be able to recognize a change in their behavior."

Changes in behavior:

1. School performance/grades
2. Change in attitude
3. Sleeping habits
4. Appearance
5. Habits of cleanliness

What to do if you suspect your child is getting high: Call for confidential help at 713-939-7272.

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