Leading Substance Abuse Treatment Provider Offers Red Ribbon Week Resources to Raise Awareness of Synthetic Drug Abuse
In recognition of Red Ribbon Week, October 23-31, 2012, Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment is working to build awareness among communities regarding the dangerous health risks associated with synthetic drug use. Banned by state and federal governments, synthetic drugs like K2 and bath salts have proven to be a threat to public health and safety. To build upon the Red Ribbon Week anti-drug education efforts taking place in schools, Gateway Foundation is offering free educational materials to schools, businesses and community organizations that highlight signs and symptoms of synthetic drug abuse as well as on-site presentations about current drug trends.
Use of synthetic marijuana is alarmingly high. According to the 2011 Monitoring the Future survey sponsored by National Institute on Drug Abuse, 11.4 percent of high school seniors used Spice or K2 in the past year, making it the second most commonly used illicit drug among seniors.
Bath salts and synthetic marijuana such as K2 and Spice are sold in retail outlets and via the Internet under many different brand labels as “plant food” and “herbal incense,” respectively. Also referred to as Synthetic Legal Intoxicating Drugs (SLIDs), these products are labeled “not for human consumption” to disguise their intended purpose and avoid FDA regulation.
Both bath salts and K2 are abused for their psychogenic, hallucinogenic and mood-altering effects. They are marketed as “natural” and “safe” substances. However, thousands of users have experienced unintended consequences, such as overdosing and visits to emergency rooms as a result of using synthetic drugs. In 2010, poison centers nationwide responded to about 3,200 calls related to K2 and bath salts. In 2011, that number jumped to more than 13,000 calls. To help reverse this trend, on July 10, 2012, President Obama signed a law banning more than two dozen of the most common chemicals used to make synthetic drugs.
Signs and symptoms of bath salts use includes: anxious and jittery behavior; insomnia, rapid heart rate, nausea, reduced motor control and seizures; severe paranoia, panic attacks, depression and suicidal thoughts; erratic behavior with potential for hallucinations, violence and self-mutilation; and lack of appetite.
Signs and symptoms of K2 use includes: appearing dizzy and having trouble walking; rapid heart rate, vomiting, agitation and confusion; paranoia, panic attacks and giddiness.
Gateway Foundation encourages parents to take advantage of Red Ribbon Week and continue the dialogue with their kids about the risks associated with all types of drugs and alcohol use. Children who learn the facts and dangers about drug use and underage drinking from their parents are up to 50 percent less likely to use than those who do not. Research shows when parents talk openly about the dangers of taking drugs and drinking with their children, teens have better self-control and develop more negative perceptions of these risky behaviors.
For more answers about synthetic drug abuse, including brochures for download, please visit www.RecoverGateway.org/synthetic-drugs.