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.

Gateway Featured in ABC News Segment: “Fentanyl deaths spike in Chicago area”

Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers was featured in an ABC News segment addressing the spike in fentanyl deaths in the Chicago area. According to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office, more than 100 deaths last year were attributed to new varieties of fentanyl.

Gateway is here to help individuals struggling with opioid addiction by offering customized treatment plans and providing highly qualified substance abuse specialists.

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Photo Credit: ABC News

 

ABC News Article: “FENTANYL DEATHS SPIKE IN CHICAGO AREA”

Chicago area public health officials are grappling with an increase in deaths due to overdoses of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid.

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Photo Credit: ABC News

On Monday, the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office reported a sharp increase in fentanyl-related deaths. They join officials in Will and DuPage counties who are also troubled by more overdoses related to strong new batches of fentanyl.

Now, a new FBI campaign hopes to education people about the threat.

Fentanyl is a drug commonly used for surgeries and post-operative care. The drug is in the family of opioids, which includes morphine and heroin.

At Gateway Treatment Centers in Naperville, patient service representatives take calls around the clock. Most of their concerns are opioid addiction.

“We know treatment works, but if we can’t get people to treatment it’s really hard to help them change their behavior as well as their use of medicines,” said Jim Scarpace, executive director of Gateway Aurora.

Making the heroin epidemic worse is the use of synthetic drugs such as fentanyl.

“Fentanyl is something that we use during surgery or during procedures,” said Dr. Steven Aks, of Stroger Hospital of Cook County. “It’s routinely used in the hospital every day. It is an ultra-potent pain medication.”

Staff at Stroger Hospital of Cook County in Chicago also have seen increases in fentanyl overdoses – some of them fatal.

More than 100 deaths last year are attributed to new varieties of fentanyl, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.

“We really started seeing a big spike back in September. We had one day where we had nine victims come in at once,” Aks said.

Efforts to prevent opioid use now coming from a partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

The federal agencies will premiere their new documentary in the Chicago area at Westmont High School on Wednesday.

WATCH: Clips of FBI/DEA documentary about opiate addiction

However, John Roberts – whose son Billy Roberts died of a heroin overdose — worries that new, powerful illegal opioids will lead to more grieving families.

“If anybody were to take a pure dose of fentanyl, it would kill them on the spot,” Roberts said.

After Billy Roberts died seven years ago, his father started Heroin Epidemic Relief Organization (H.E.R.O).

“Until I join my little boy, I will fight this battle until that day,” Roberts said.

Treatment experts suspect those using heroin may mistake fentanyl as heroin, but the drug is much more powerful and can take several does of the antidote to revive a patient.

Anyone concerned about a loved one can now be trained and get naloxone from a pharmacy or recovery advocacy organizations.

H.E.R.O. is hosting an event on April 29 at Edwards Hospital in Naperville.

Source: ABC News

Are you concerned a loved one may be addicted to opioids? Learn more about prescription drug abuse online at RecoverGateway.org or call Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers for a free consultation at 877-505-HOPE (4673).

 

What are Designer Drugs or “Street Drugs?”

designer drugsDesigner drugs, also referred to as synthetic drugs or street drugs, are produced by altering the chemistry of existing illegal substances. Made by street chemists, designer drugs can vary greatly in terms of strength and purity. Often times, these drugs may contain agents that are highly poisonous such as liquid laundry bleach.

Because of the great variation of ingredients, the street names can vary from batch to batch. Due to unlicensed and untrained amateurs creating these drugs, they can be extremely dangerous. In many cases, these altered drugs are far more dangerous and powerful than the original illegal substance.

WHAT’S SO “DESIGNER” ABOUT THESE DRUGS?

These drugs are “designed” to sidestep laws against controlled substances. Before designer drugs came along, drug laws were specific. Drugs like Heroin, amphetamines, Valium and other drugs were put on a list in The Controlled Substances Act, created by the Federal Government. Substances on this list were explicitly banned by law.

Street chemists who originated designer drugs knew that, by switching base ingredients or otherwise tinkering with the chemical structure of drugs in the lab, they could create entirely new chemicals – or drugs, different enough from controlled substances that they wouldn’t violate the law, yet close enough to produce many of the same effects as the original drug.

Common physical symptoms among users of designer drugs include:

 – Increased heart rate  – Total paralysis
 – Clenched teeth – Chills and sweating
 – Blurred vision – Dehydration and heat exhaustion
 – Uncontrolled tremors  – Seizures
 – Anorexia  – Nausea and vomiting
 – Respiratory depression – Death
 – Permanent brain damage

To learn more about synthetic drugs, visit RecoverGateway.org/Synthetic-Drugs

If you or a loved one is struggling with designer drug use, Gateway can help. Visit RecoverGateway.org to learn more.

Gateway Foundation Alumni Warn Others about Synthetic Drugs

Gateway Foundation Carbondale recently took part in a panel discussion hosted by the Harrisburg Alliance Against Drug Abuse to share with concerned citizens the many risks associated with synthetic drug use.

Synthetic drugs like bath salts and synthetic marijuana or K2 are abused for their psychogenic, hallucinogenic and mood-altering effects. While bath salts are in powder form like cocaine and may be ingested, injected or snorted, K2 is normally smoked or may be rendered into a liquid and taken with food.

Jennifer Casteel, a substance abuse counselor at Gateway Foundation Carbondale, was joined by two young men who volunteered to share their experiences with bath salts and synthetic marijuana. Currently in recovery, they both completed substance abuse treatment at Gateway Foundation Carbondale. Now the young men are cautioning others to stay away from synthetic drugs.

“Bath salts and K2 can cause adverse reactions, such as: hallucinations, seizures, agitation, vomiting, paranoia, anxiety, blacking out and over-stimulation of the central nervous system,” Casteel explained.

One of the young men primarily abused bath salts. While bath salts are now illegal, they weren’t when he started using them. He could find them for legal sale at several stores in his hometown for about $50 to $80 a gram. He explained the high was extreme, but so were the lows when the drug wore off and the crash came.

“I was up three to six days with no sleep, no food, just a lot of water,” the young man said. “Bath salts really mess with your brain. You literally hate everything, including yourself. You think about suicide. And you know the only thing that will make you feel normal again is if you do more of this. And that’s how it escalates so quickly,” he shared.

For the other young man, K2 was the drug of choice. A normally laid back person, he said when he used K2 he became violent with his mother, and was led from the house in handcuffs.

An unpredictable drug, some brands of synthetic marijuana may result in a slightly mellow feeling while others may create significant psychological distress. Even within the same brand, the effects may vary from packet to packet. K2 can induce a limitless high the more a user smokes. Its effects can be up to 10 times more intense than marijuana.

With synthetic drug abuse behind them, both young men look forward to a much more promising future. One has aspirations to open a restaurant and the other intends to pursue a career as a substance abuse counselor and help others like him get their lives back on track.

What are Bath Salts?

Bath Salts contain manmade chemicals related to amphetamines that often consist of mephedrone, methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) and methylone, also known as substituted cathinones. The powder-like substance is described as “fake cocaine” and is consumed by snorting, injecting or smoking.

BATH SALTS MAY BE AS ADDICTIVE AS COCAINE

Bath Salts have gained popularity among recreational drug users and act in the brain like cocaine, reveals a study published by Behavioral Bran Research journal. Scientists recently tested the effect of the synthetic drug on mice using “intracranial self-stimulation” (ICSS) – a method that has been used for decades as a way to look at how drugs activate the reward circuitry in the brain, which can lead to addiction. Certain drugs increase the brain’s sensitivity to reward stimulation, which in turn makes them work harder to receive the reward. The researchers measured the mice’s wheel-spinning efforts before, during and after they receive doses of cocaine or bath salts, and they found that bath salts had the same reward potency as cocaine. These finding suggest that bath salts, although marketed until recently as a relatively benign “legal high” – could be more addictive than people may realize.

BATH SALTS SIGNS & SYMPTOMS

  • Anxious and jittery behavior
  • Insomnia, rapid heart rate, nausea, reduced motor control, seizures
  • Severe paranoia, panic attacks, depression and suicidal thoughts
  • Erratic behavior with potential for hallucinations, violence and self-mutilation
  • Lack of appetite

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.

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.

Red Ribbon Week: Growing Threat of Synthetic Drugs

As a resource and advocate for substance abuse recovery, 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.

K2 and Bath SaltsIn 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.

Gateway Foundation believes that communicating the dangerous and damaging effects of synthetic drugs like K2 and bath salts through public awareness and education is critical. Therefore, we offer 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.

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