Not safe way to get high
Synthetic drugs are on the increase and easily available causing great harm to users. Even with prohibitions in current state and federal laws, these man-made forms of dangerous chemicals can be accessed by New Hampshire youth and citizens.
Promoters and retail outlets market these drugs to the public as a safe way of getting high, but in reality they can cause great damage to the body and brain. These products are sold as incense, potpourri, bird attractant, plant food, and are labeled “not for human consumption,” hiding their intended purpose.
Synthetic drugs comes in many forms. One common form is synthetic marijuana, or synthetic cannabinoids, a green/brown leafy substance or a dark ball of resin sprayed with artificial chemicals to imitate the effect of Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Do not underestimate the risk of this drug as it can cause vomiting, severe agitation, tremors, seizures, numbness, increased heart rate and increased blood pressure. It can also cause paranoia, panic attacks and hallucinations. It is known as K2, K3, Spice, Splice, Blaze, Black Mamba, Fake Weed, Genie and Bliss, and has over 250 analogs.
Another common form is synthetic cathinones, a toxic amphetamine-like drug disguised as “bath salts.” It is a light colored powder with a variety of names and up to 150 analogs. It can cause chest pains, irregular heartbeats, increased blood pressure, agitation, muscle breakdown and seizures. It can also precipitate extreme paranoia, delusions, hallucinations, suicidal thoughts and violence.
There are other synthetic drugs in the market. These include phenylethylamines, which have properties similar to amphetamines and hallucinogens, and are known as Smiles, 2C-1 and Ecstasy/MDMA - Molly, as well as piperazines, known as Benzo Fury, or BZP.
New versions of synthetic drugs are continually being developed, and it is impossible for the user to know the list of ingredients or the potency of any particular ones. The effects, however, can be serious to the point of causing permanent damage or even death.
These drugs are easily available in most of our neighborhoods and may be enticing to any age, but they are most frequently used by adolescents and young adults. In a recent state survey, approximately 14 percent of New Hampshire high school students reported having used synthetic marijuana.
Calls to poison control centers about synthetic drugs continues to increase. Help us get the word out that these products are not safe and should not be sold on store shelves. Talk with your kids about these harmful products and empower them to make healthy choices. To learn more and for help to talk with your kids about this very important issue, see www.drugfreeNH.org, www.drugfree.org and www.drugabuse.gov, or call the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services at 800-804-0909.
Nancy Jackson-Reno works for the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services.