Posts Tagged synthetic marijuana abuse
If you are still skeptical about the risks of synthetic drug abuse, then this bit of news might make you think twice.
In November of last year, the family of Kurtis Hildreth found the 18-year-old dead inside his bedroom with a partially lit pipe containing the illicit drug Spice and a lighter nearby. According the Alaska Dispatch, the medical examiner’s office declared the cause of death as “undetermined”, much to the frustration and anger of Hildreth’s family.
Hildreth lived with his aunt, Kerri Stevens, when the incident happened. “The pipe was right there by his feet. He was a healthy kid. The lighter was right there. The pipe was right there. He never had any kind of heart problems or seizures,” said Stevens. The teenager was supposed to tour around Alaska and be presented a job offer in a commercial glass company run by his aunt’s family. With the teen’s death, the plans were all for naught.
Alaska plays host to a number of designer drugs readily available in smoke shops. These synthetic marijuana versions are packed in attractive packets, such as the brand “Mr. Nice Guy” with a dead smiley face at the front of the packaging. This particular brand was the one found in Hildreth’s bedroom where he was found lifeless.
Brandon Jenkins, the victim’s best friend, was able to talk with Hildreth moments before the teenager sniffed the controversial drug. “Life will lead you in better directions than this stuff will. Life has many opportunities, and death only has one,” Jenkins added.
The nation’s law enforcement units have more than once admitted that synthetic drugs aren’t easy to resolve because manufacturers of these substances are often ahead of the game. This isn’t surprising considering there are dozens of synthetic compounds that synthetic marijuana and bath salts makers could experiment with to get around federal and state laws.
Historically, the most popular synthetic cannabinoids are JWH-018 and JWH-073. They were two of the first five synthetic substances that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officially banned on March 1, 2011. In reality, though, there are over a hundred synthetic cannabinoids available for abuse.
Teenagers are widely known as the top users of synthetic marijuana and bath salts. They typically purchase the products from gasoline stations, smokeshops, convenience stores, and the Internet. Even though public health officials have issued warning on the dangers of synthetic drugs, many teens continue to use the products to experience the same “high” they can get from real cannabis.
Currently, more than 40 U.S. states have banned synthetic marijuana and bath salts. But what manufacturers are doing is when a governing body makes certain synthetic compounds illegal they will make similar products using synthetic chemicals that are not yet banned. This way they continue doing business without going to jail. It is for this same reason that many street names began to emerge in the recent years to cover up synthetic drugs sold across states.
Adding difficulty in combating synthetic drug use is the fact that the substance isn’t easily detected in standard drug tests. So if you’re a parent and you want to know whether your child is using synthetic marijuana, you’d have to use specialized drug tests to give yourself some peace of mind.
A group of parents appeared at Barrington High School last week not to attend a PTA meeting, but to discuss the increasingly prevalent issue of synthetic drug use by teenagers, the Barrington.Suntimes.com reports.
Leading the discussion is Linda Lewaniak, director of the Center for Addiction Medicine at Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital, who explained that fake marijuana is often marketed as “herbal incense” and is sold in colorful, stylish packages that appeal to teenagers.
During the session, coordinated by the Barrington Community Drug Prevention Coalition, Lewaniak also tackled synthetic stimulants, particularly mephedrone, which can be sold under the guise of “bath salts” or “plant fertilizer.” She enumerated the side effects of mephedrone, such as euphoria, sociability, and stimulation. She noted that the effects of the drug can drastically vary from the first to second time of use, and an individual may experience paranoia, anxiety, insomnia and psychosis.
In July, an ordinance was passed in Barrington that prohibits sale or possession of products containing the synthetic drugs “bath salts” and “K2/Spice.” The ordinance allows police officers to inspect convenience stores and gas stations suspected of selling synthetic drugs.
Lewaniak believes that the use of synthetic drugs by teenager could decrease once teenagers realize the harrowing effects of the drugs.
The Barrington Community Drug Prevention Coalition has scheduled additional discussions with area parents at the high school on other teen issues, including parent and child communication (Oct. 24), binge drinking (Nov. 28), and stress and mental health (Dec. 12).
Three teens from Texas, who were also fake pot users, were lucky enough to escape death. Three cases of teen heart attacks were linked to synthetic marijuana – popularly known as K2 or Spice.
The three boys involved in the medical cases were all 16 years old. They admitted that they were smoking real marijuana and that they also got a taste fake pot for the last few days before the heart problems occurred. Upon examination, the kids were found to be healthy and did not have any prior cardiovascular diseases, but after smoking K2, all of them complained of chest pains and were immediately rushed to the medical facility.
Dr. Anthony Calzo from the St. Louis University toxicology department said that fake weed has both psychological and physical effects such as anxiety, increased heart rate, and elevated blood pressure. Aside from these, what happened to the three kids only proves that there is more health risks associated with synthetic marijuana.
Fake pot has gained popularity especially among the youth simply because it’s not easily detected in the body’s system yet they still contain synthetic cannabinoids that give the same effect as the real stuff.
Unfortunately, fake pot can be easily obtained despite close monitoring of authorities. Nationwide initiatives to ban the selling and possession of fake marijuana have already been set and it has been outlawed by the DEA in some parts of the country.
Scientists have not given the exact ingredients contained in the synthetic drugs. In the journal of Pediatrics, experts were quoted as saying, “Lack of information regarding the origin of these compounds as well as other chemicals possibly contained in these products makes their use dangerous and unpredictable.”
Parents nowadays have an additional source of concern, as an increasing number of teenagers are turning to incense products that contain harmful synthetic chemicals. In addition to the dangers that they pose, these products are more readily accessible to teenagers: these are being conveniently sold at gas stations and convenience stores.
Complicating things further is the fact that most traditional drug tests are unable to detect these substances. A community forum conducted on Wednesday in Howell, Michigan, reveal the disheartening fact that a number of parents have watched their children suffer from debilitating and life-threatening health conditions brought about by using these products, which have been labeled as “not for human consumption.”
Stephanie VanDerKooi, health educator for the Ottawa County Health Department, shared: “This is going to consistently become a problem. We’re always a step behind.”
The community forum was led by Ms. VanDerKooi, and featured a panel consisting of local health, law enforcement, and courts officials. A video that showed personal accounts of teenage use of synthetic marijuana products, outside of Ottawa County, was shown. In addition to the personal accounts, the video also showed the physical ailments associated with using these incense-type products, as well as the products that are currently being sold legally in stores and online.
Substance abuse experts have declared that synthetic marijuana products, which are being marketed as incense, prove to be more dangerous than pot itself, when smoked.
In addition to synthetic marijuana products, the forum also touched on prescription drug abuse among teenagers.
Despite efforts of authorities to ban K2, it’s still making its way to teens via legitimate stores and markets. According to Bridge to Awareness Counseling Center manager Ray Moore, K2 is being sold legally as incense.
In a feature from Chieftain.com, users of K2 experience the same high as they do when using pot, but they often manifest irritability, aggressiveness and agitation when high or when effects of the drug starts to clear in their system. Yet teens still use this synthetic marijuana due to its difficulty of being detected in drug testing procedures.
Chris Leeman, a counselor, says he has first-hand experience with K2 users. He says 50 to 60% of kids are using K2 to either get away from drug confirmatory tests or just when nothing else is around to give them the high that pot brings. He has observed dangerous behaviors due to K2 use, though, such as “becoming aggressive, irritable, anxious and sometimes suicidal.”
Parents need to know that K2 or spice is readily sold to kids in retail and often perceived as less dangerous than marijuana and other illicit drugs. The Drug Enforcement Administration has banned K2 products last fall, but imitators were fast to replace it with other compounds that give the same effects. Although most of them are supposed to be sold to individuals 18 years old and above, some local outlets and convenience stores are not following laws for financial gains.