Fake Weed-Related Injuries and Deaths Break Out in Illinois

K2An outbreak of synthetic marijuana, starting in Chicago and fanning out in Illinois, has caused more than 50 cases of serious bleeding–including two deaths–and those numbers are rising.

“This is the first time we’ve seen an outbreak of this magnitude in the area,” Melaney Arnold, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Public Health, announces.

Its effects can be up to 10 times more intense than marijuana; as a result, it’s more dangerous. And its longterm effects on the brain and body are still unknown.

“Synthetic cannabinoids have been touted as ‘safe, legal’ alternatives to marijuana and other illicit substances, but they are neither,” says Gateway Lake Villa Executive Director Karen Wolownik-Albert. “Patients in treatment who are withdrawing from these unknown chemicals experience extreme agitation, language and perceptual disturbances, paranoia, hallucinations, and significant physical discomfort.”

What is synthetic marijuana?

Synthetic marijuana, often referred to as K2, consists of human-made chemicals that are either sprayed on dried, shredded plant material and smoked, or liquids that are vaporized and inhaled in e-cigarettes and other devices.

What are the signs?

  • Feeling lightheaded and having trouble walking
  • Vomiting
  • Agitation, confusion, paranoia, and panic attacks
  • Hallucinations
  • Rapid heart rate and over-stimulation of the central nervous system

What should you do?

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

What is Synthetic Marijuana or K2?

K2 Synthetic MarijuanaK2 can be produced using chemical compounds called JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-200 and CP-47,497. These compounds are structured similar to THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, and can be sprayed onto varying mixtures of dried herbs, flowers and tobacco leaves. The most common consumption method is smoking.

Gateway Foundation Shares K2 Clinical Discoveries

Individuals in substance abuse treatment at Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment have confirmed the dangerous effects of K2 use, such as:

Hallucinations, paranoia, anxiety and over-activation of the central nervous system (e.g., elevated temperature, rapid heartbeat) are common. An individual who used K2 reported he felt as though his heart was pounding so intensely it would explode.

Some users report a sensation that can only be best described as a temporary paralysis of motor movement. For example, an individual reported he was so high from K2 that he could not tell if he was breathing anymore, but was clearly conscious.

Some users report significant agitation and aggression when coming off of K2 or when hey are eager for their next fix; others may not have this experience at all.

K2 users who were otherwise completely free of suicidal thoughts said they became suicidal after using K2. Users of K2 who overdosed reported blacking out, having seizures and vomiting.

Gateway Foundation offers free educational materials that highlight signs and symptoms of substance abuse as well as on-site presentations about current drug trends. For more information, please visit RecoverGateway.org or email ContactUs@RecoverGateway.org.

Gateway Foundation to Offer Free CEU Training in Honor of National Recovery Month

In recognition of National Recovery Month in September, Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment is offering the professional community complimentary CEU workshops to enhance knowledge in order to better assist individuals with alcohol or drug abuse issues. Subject matter will include motivational interviewing, co-occurring disorders and understanding K2 and bath salts.

“Last year, Gateway Foundation provided free on-site training to more than 300 professionals to better prepare them to aid others who need treatment for substance abuse. This year, we are eager to share our clinical expertise with even more individuals by hosting three informative webinars that are ideal for professionals who work in healthcare, education, legal, mental health and substance abuse treatment,” says Gateway Foundation CEO and President Michael Darcy.

Motivational Interviewing Workshop

The webinar builds upon participants’ interviewing and counseling skills by teaching how to make a realistic assessment of an individual’s motivation for change. It outlines models to increase effectiveness with individuals who are ambivalent or who are resistant to change. The workshop is conducted by a Gateway Foundation Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who uses motivational interviewing techniques on a daily basis.

Date/Time: Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, from 1 to 2 p.m.

1 CEU  NAADAC, Illinois – LCSW, LSW, LCPC, LPC, Nursing

Co-Occurring Disorders Workshop

The workshop introduces attendees to current, research-based approaches intended to improve one’s ability to succeed with individuals that are challenged by the presence of co-occurring mental health and substance abuse issues. The webinar will be led by a Gateway Foundation Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who is experienced in working with individuals with co-occurring disorders.

Date/Time: Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012, from 1 to 2 p.m.

1 CEU  NAADAC, Illinois – LCSW, LSW, LCPC, LPC, Nursing

Understanding K2 and Bath Salts Webinar

Lead by a Gateway Foundation Licensed Clinical Psychologist, this webinar is intended to increase one’s understanding of synthetic drugs, the signs and symptoms of K2 and bath salts use and the potential long-term effects of abuse. Attendees will also hear from representatives of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office to learn how the federal and state lawmakers are responding to these addictive and deadly drugs.

Date/Time: Thurs., Sept. 27, 2012, from 1 to 2 p.m.

1 CEU  NAADAC, Illinois – LCSW, LSW, LCPC, LPC, Nursing

Presented by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and its Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), the goal of Recovery Month is to increase understanding of mental and substance use disorder prevention and treatment services to achieve recovery, and to help people recognize and seek assistance for these health conditions with the same urgency as any other health condition.

For more information about Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment and Recovery Month events or to register for webinars, please visit RecoverGateway.org/2012.

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