It’s called poppy seed tea. Kids are drinking it. You should be worried.


SPARTANBURG, S.C. – When it comes to the opioid epidemic, it’s not just pills and powder anymore.

Addiction specialists are warning about a tea that young addicts can make at home.

The main ingredient is unwashed poppy seeds sold online.

It’s a tea brewed centuries ago that releases the morphine and codeine in the seeds. In recent years, it’s been linked to several deaths

The Hacalas lost their son, Stephen, to the tea overdose.

“He said your son died in his sleep in his apartment last night. And it just shattered me,” said Steve Hacala.

Lisa Marzilli, a national speaker on addiction, was in the Upstate Thursday warning about the changing form of opioids. She’s concerned about the poppy seed tea comeback.

“Depending on how well the seed was washed before it hit the market, the whole foods or other establishment, there are varying amounts, trace amounts of morphine and codeine. So if an individual or child took in enough, it certainly could cause respiratory depression and death,” Marzilli said. 

Joe Pinilla at the Forrester Center says the main source of opioid for kids in the upstate continues to be prescriptions, but not necessarily their own.

“What we’re hearing consistently is that the main point of access for youth is still prescription cabinets, drug medicine cabinets in a house, whether it’s the parents house or grandparents. Left over medication,” said Pinilla. 

Marzilli also warns, over the last three years there’s been a large influx of illicit Fentanyl from China.   

The Fentynal is so potent that just two milligrams, equivalent to a few grains of salt, can be lethal.

Then there’s synthetic opioids, designer drugs with slight deviations in chemistry aim to get 
around the law governing controlled substances.

As for the Hacalas, they’re pressing for a new ban on those unwashed seeds.

“Manufacturers and retailers/distributors are selling not just the seeds but the seeds coated with opium latex,” Steve Hacalas said.

And since there is no way to assess the dosage in the tea, users will never know exactly how dangerous the drink is.  


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