Last Saturday, the Wall Street Journal reported on a nationwide crackdown on what are called “designer drugs.‘ A raid took place in head shops, manufacturing sites and convenience stores in 90 cities spread across 31 states. The crackdown was the result of legislation passed earlier in July, which added some of these synthetic compounds to the list of banned substances.
These formerly “legal” drugs were designed to mimic the effects of cocaine, LSD, ecstasy, or marijuana. Kids typically thought them to be safer than the illegal drugs they mimicked, but the fact is, they are even much more harmful and dangerous. No one, except the anonymous designer, knows exactly what’s in the synthetic drug, and there’s no consistency in what’s available. This becomes a major problem when a person has an emergency due to the ingestion of the drug, and needs treatment.
The synthetic drugs are marketed as “bath salts” or eye-drops. The major brand names are K2 or Spice. Perk up your ears to listen for those terms, or watch to see if your teen has started buying and using “eye-drops.” Note that some of the arrests in the crackdown were at convenience stores, so they have been readily available, including availability on-line.
How dangerous are these synthetic drugs? Look up the story of Lamar Jack, a redshirted freshman basketball player at an Alabama University. (blog.al.com/sports_impact/print.html?entry=/2012/07/the_spread_of_spice_colleges_n.html. It was posted july 29, 2012) While he was working out during the preseason conditioning drills, he complained of cramps and blurred vision. When he collapsed, the school rushed him to the emergency room. Four days later he was dead. He was only 19. His death was ruled the result of acute drug toxicity–he had ingested synthetic marijuana.
Symptoms include agitation, irrational, even paranoid ideation, and a tendency to isolate himself or herself. These are in addition to the routine warning signs such as changes in behavior, a drop in academic performance and an increase in lying.
What treatment programs have found is that educating teens about the unpredictable nature of these synthetic drugs, and the obvious manipulation by the manufacturers to market them, will often end the problem. For your own education, check out what’s on the web about synthetic drugs and then educate your kids!