Dangers with synthetic drugs

The use and abuse of synthetic drugs is very risky. Those who need to know more about them include emergency room doctors who are expected to treat and save lives, public health officials whose job it is to protect us, and school administrators who want and need to help students in crisis. The problem is NOT just the person who is affected by the use of these chemicals. It’s a community problem as well.

The experts are trying to stay a step ahead of the ever-changing products like K-2 and Spice-which are synthetic versions of marijuana (cannabinoids) and bath salts (cathinones) which contain chemical compounds that mimic the effects of cocaine or methamphetamine. The packaging clearly state that they are not intended for human consumption, but

Synthetic drugs are more than very dangerous. The buyers have no idea which chemicals were used in the manufacture of these “drugs” they are taking into their bodies.

“Individual products can contain a vast range of different chemical formulations and potencies, some of which can be two to 500 times stronger than THC,” advises the Allegheny County Health Department, Pittsburgh (ACHD).

THC, tetrahydrocannibanol, is a prescription drug used to treat or prevent nausea and vomiting caused by cancer medications when others don’t work. It’s also used to increase appetite in those with AIDS. It is a controlled substance because of the risks involved with consuming it. If you Google it you can learn everything you want to know about THC.

Bath salts are “designer drugs.” Long-term health problems include kidney failure, liver failure, long-term mental illness, self-mutilation, increased risk of suicide and death. “Users frequently describe the high as ‘horrible’ and report seeing demons, monsters, foreign soldiers or aliens. Some have symptoms for 2-3 days. Some require long-term psychiatric care because their symptoms don’t improve,” advises ACHD. And as for “herbal incense” aka “fake marijuana,” the facts are that these are not herbal, not safe, and in some cases, not legal, not intended for human consumption.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy at The White House reports that synthetic cannabinoids laced on plant material were first reported in the U.S. in December 2008 when a shipment of “Spice” was seized and analyzed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Dayton. In 2012, there were 158 new synthetic substances identified. The contents and effects of these are unpredictable due to a constantly changing variety of chemicals used in manufacturing processes which quality is not controlled or regulated.

Sherry Green, CEO of the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws, said, “The DEA uses a system to gather information from sources about where substances are being used, but it is limited to controlled substances-so if they’re not being controlled or banned yet, the DEA isn’t getting reports about them. There’s no one central place that draws on all these sources. We need to gather information from these sources, quickly analyze it and get it back out to people who need it-ER doctors, public health officials and administrators of schools-so they can act.”

Green also urged a stronger education and prevention program to better inform those who need to know: “Everyone from parents to school administrators to ER physicians need better education about what these substances do.”

Family Recovery Center promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities with education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related mental health issues. For more information on the issue of synthetic drugs please contact the Family Recovery Center’s Education Department and its ADAPT program at 330-424-0531.