K2: Synthetic Marijuana Strikes Again

Despite what seems like an endless stream of horrific news reports regarding the use of synthetic drugs, people continue to play with deadly fire. We have covered reports on our blog about the unpredictable dangers of synthetic drugs use, specifically Flakka (alpha-PVP); it is a compound that is similar to the one used to make the more commonly abused synthetic drugs known as “bath salts.” Over the last few years there have been an alarming number of emergency room cases involving Flakka, a crystalline substance which hosts a chemical that can cause paranoia, delusions and violent surges.

Flakka and bath salts incidents are only one aspect of the synthetic drug crisis we face in the United States, the most popular form of these type of drugs is what is known as synthetic cannabis. While sold under a number of names, most people know synthetic marijuana as Spice or K2. Those forms of synthetic marijuana are a far cry from actual cannabis when it comes to the side effects that one can expect.

Synthetic Marijuana: A Different Animal

Those who use traditional cannabis can typically count on experiencing consistent side effects, such as dry mouth, bloodshot eyes, increased appetite and lethargy. Those who use synthetic marijuana have no way of knowing how they will interact with the chemicals used to make such products. Manufacturers of these types of drugs spray chemicals on benign plant matter, chemicals that are made with little oversight and practically zero testing. Meaning, synthetic drug users have become lab rats for chemists. This behavior has led to a dramatic rise in ER visits involving both Spice and K2.

Recently, a bad batch K2 is believed to be the cause of at least 130 overdoses during the course of a week across New York City, The New York Times reports. Interestingly, officials are not calling the overdose outbreak a sign that use is on the rise, but just a bad batch of the product.

“The users of K2 are literally playing Russian roulette with their bodies,” said Robert Messner, the Police Department’s assistant deputy commissioner for civil enforcement. “They [users] have no idea what chemicals are in that package or at what concentration.”

Staying Ahead Of The Game

The continued prevalence of synthetic drug use in the United States is more about bans than enforcement. These types of drugs are extremely difficult to police because every time federal or state governments ban the chemicals used to make synthetic drugs, the chemists alter the formula and thus skirting the bans. This is why New York Senator Chuck Schumer has proposed increasing the scope of current bans in place, CNN News reports. The first move is to place a ban on 22 drugs Schumer said are sold and most commonly used.

“We need a federal hammer to nail these toxic concoctions of synthetic drugs before things get worse,” said Schumer.

Is Your Teen Or Young Adult At Risk?

Often it is teenagers or young adults who decide to experiment with items like synthetic marijuana. At Family Recovery Specialists we offer an At Risk Program for adolescents and young adults that are experimenting or abusing substances, but may not have a more serious problem. These individuals typically are in the early stages of substance use and do not meet criteria for substance dependence. This program is more intensive than an individual/family therapy approach and provides education for the parents and the child, as well. Early intervention is key when treating teens and young adults, please contact us for more information.

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