Synthetic Drugs Use is On the Rise
Synthetic drugs are manmade drugs; they are often plant-based, but are laced with synthetic chemical compounds that can be very dangerous. These chemical additives cause them to mimic the effects achieved when using other drugs, such as cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamines. Most everyone knows that drugs can cause serious harm or death, yet the dangerous consequences of synthetic substance abuse are occurring with greater frequency.
Between 2010 and 2011, emergency room visits due to bath salts use increased by 230 percent. This staggering statistic indicates that, despite nationwide government and local efforts, the use of synthetics such as bath salts is steadily on the rise. Knowing more about bath salts, the dangers of using them and how they can kill you or your loved one can help you avoid becoming a bath salts statistic.
- What Are Bath Salts? Bath salts fall into the drug category known as “cathinones.” These dangerous drugs act as amphetamines, and are chemical-based compounds that mimic the feelings and effects users get when using meth and cocaine. Users of bath salts refer to it under the street names of “fake cocaine” or “complete crank,” but they are sold in packages labeled with names such as Bliss, Hurricane Charlie, Purple Wave, Vanilla Sky and White Knight. Bath salts have been banned in several countries throughout the world, including the United Kingdom, and the US government is working to create a ban that manufacturers can’t get around.
- Signs of Bath Salts Use. These substances can be smoked, swallowed, snorted and injected. In the beginning, it will be difficult to know that your loved one or friend is using bath salts. But, over time, their behavior will change and you’ll see that they’ve become more secretive. Hiding packets of bath salts and lying about using them are generally the early warning signs pointing toward abuse. As time goes on, continued bath salts use will create a profound difference in your loved one’s personality and it will seem as if they live for the next use at the expense of everything and everyone else in their life. Once the abuse has reached this point, it’s unlikely the person can stop using bath salts.
How Bath Salts Can Kill You
- Death by Suicide. One of the scariest consequences is that they can lead to suicidal tendencies. This psychoactive substance affects your mind and central nervous system. Many users become disoriented and suffer severe hallucinations. The propensity towards violence can lead someone high on bath salts to resort to self-inflicted harm. Dealing with a friend or loved one who is in this state due to bath salts use can be very scary and dangerous. It’s better to call the police and seek professional health than deal with the severely altered and potentially violent behavior of someone who’s high on bath salts, even if it’s someone you love.
- Severe Mental & Emotional Side Effects. Depending upon how you or your loved one uses bath salts and the amount in which it’s used, this synthetic drug’s effects can last from three to eight hours. During this time, serious and unpleasant mental and emotional side effects can occur. It’s possible to quickly transition from a euphoric feeling to having extreme paranoia. Visual and auditory hallucinations can lead to anxiety and the occurrence of panic attacks. You or your loved one are likely to experience a diminished need for an interest in eating and sleeping, which can serve to compound the emotional and mental effects caused by using bath salts. For some, these unpleasant side effects are enough to cease using bath salts. But those who continue will need to use the synthetic drug more often to achieve the same effects.
- Sudden Violent Tendencies. Many of the mental side effects caused by using bath salts have the potential to cause a normally mild-mannered person to suddenly act out in a violent manner. Reports have been made of people with bath salts in their system jumping in front of oncoming traffic, attacking innocent bystanders or lashing out at loved ones and friends. This dangerous synthetic poses clear risks to the user, but also puts anyone else nearby at risk, too. You should never try to calm down or soothe a loved one who’s behaving violently after using bath salts. The hallucinations, paranoia and anxiety create a dangerous cocktail that leads to violence and it cannot be reasoned with.
- Serious Physical Health Side Effects. It’s hard to imagine that you or someone you love can suffer bath salts side effects beyond what’s already been mentioned. The physical side effects caused by bath salts use works together with the mental side effects, putting the user and those around him or her at great risk. At the very least, bath salts use and abuse leads to sweating, dizziness and loss of appetite. The more severe physical side effects include rapid heartbeat, swelling of the brain, kidney failure, seizure, stroke, heart attack, coma and death. When considering the health risks posed by this synthetic, it’s mind-boggling to consider that your loved one could ever get mixed up with something so dangerous.
What to Do About Bath Salts Addiction?
- Dealing with the Impact on Family. In general, abuse and addiction is a family disease and virtually no one close to the user is exempt from the effects of bath salts abuse. The strange, out-of-character behavior of someone on bath salts leads family members to be caught up in a web of lies, empty promises, worry and fears for the safety and health of their loved one. If someone you love is using bath salts, you know that reasoning with them or begging them to stop using the harmful substance is useless. At the very least, the family members of bath salts users suffer a great deal of stress worrying about the one they love. As bath salts abuse continues, your family faces an increased risk of suffering irreparable damage, such as domestic violence, separation and divorce.
- Seeking Treatment. The intense cravings and severe withdrawal symptoms experienced by bath salts abusers make it extremely difficult, dangerous and unpleasant to quit alone. A professional treatment center that offers you or your loved one the specific care and treatment needed for bath salts addiction is the safest way to recover. A closely monitored detoxification period allows you or someone you love to reach a point of being free from the presence of bath salts in the body so physical and mental healing can begin. Appropriate healthcare, counseling and life skills education will help you or your loved one continue to work toward recovery from bath salts addiction.
- Avoiding Relapse through Aftercare. Aftercare is especially important for you or someone you love once you’ve finished rehabilitation for bath salts addiction. Because it is so easily accessed, many lifestyle changes must be made to avoid the temptation to use again. During treatment you or your loved one will participate in individual, group and family counseling to work through the different facets of addiction. After treatment is over, counseling, group support and continued education can help you maintain a life of sobriety and learn how to deal with triggers and stressors in positive, healthy ways. Recovery from bath salts abuse and addiction is an on-going, life long process. Having the support of loved ones and family members can help you or someone you love stay clean and sober.
More than 60 percent of synthetic marijuana users are younger than 25 years old. It’s understandable why so many parents, authorities, high school and college campuses, and military bases are concerned with the rapidly increasing use of this drug. No one wants to see a young life cut short or permanently damaged due to the use of a dangerous substance many believe to be harmless. Knowing more about the dangers of synthetic marijuana can help you or a loved one steer clear of the drug or seek help to overcome abuse and addiction.
- What is “Fake” Marijuana? This stuff falls under the category of cannabinoids. It contains THC-like properties which produce mild analgesic effects, such as pain relief. Synthetic marijuana mimics the effects of regular marijuana. Known to users as “fake weed,” it is commonly referred to as K2 or Spice. It’s sold in convenience stores, paraphernalia shops and gas stations in small, colorful packets, often labeled with names such as Black Mamba, Cloud Nine, Genie and Bombay Blue. Synthetic marijuana is illegal in the United States, but manufacturers continue to get around the law by altering the chemical composition. Sellers and users order the product retail or wholesale through internet websites owned in China. Spice or K2 containing the herb damiana is manufactured and imported from the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico.
- Signs of Use. Spice and K2 is typically sold in small packets containing a natural-looking substance made of leaves, or one that resembles potpourri. Initially, a family member using K2 or Spice might be open about it until concerns are raised about its safety. After this occurs, a loved one will hide the product and lie about using it to avoid having to listen to concerns about it. With continued use of this product, your behavior or the behavior of someone you love will change in a more pronounced way, alerting you to the fact that drug use is the likely culprit. Even though K2 is cheaper than many others purchased on the street, a teen or young adult who’s not working may resort to stealing and pilfering to support their purchases.
How Spice and K2 Can Kill You
- Death by Suicide. Using causes a variety of extreme side effects and consequences. The colorful little packet it’s sold in belies its dangers and many people scoff at the idea that using K2 or Spice can kill them. But there have been reported instances of users “freaking out” after smoking it, resulting in suicide. The severe mental effects of this drug can lead you or your loved one to behave or react in unimaginable ways, with suicide being one of the saddest outcomes.
- Severe Mental & Emotional Side Effects. Even though this substance is referred to as fake marijuana, some of its mental and emotional side effects are completely different from those of its natural counterpart. If you use fake weed, it’s likely you will experience feelings of euphoria and detachment, which do not occur when smoking real marijuana. Synthetic marijuana use can also cause you or someone you love to become agitated, irritable and experience anxiety, paranoia and hallucinations. Since manufacturers are continually altering the chemical additives used to create synthetic marijuana, you or your loved one face the risk of suffering side effects from these chemicals, as well. Paranoia caused by smoking fake weed is one of the greatest concerns because it is similar to the level of paranoia experienced by those who use extremely dangerous drugs, such as angel dust and PCP.
- Sudden Violent Tendencies. Although Spice can cause you or a loved one to feel euphoric, it also commonly causes something known as dysphoria. Dysphoria is the opposite of euphoria and can leave a loved one feeling as if he or she is trapped in their own personal nightmare. The fears, panic and anxiety that accompany this experience have led many synthetic marijuana users to act out in a violent manner. As the use and abuse of this substance grows, the rate of violent crimes caused by people high on fake weed continue to rise, too.
- Serious Physical Health Side Effects. Synthetic marijuana can easily lead you or a loved one to addiction. Early on, the physical side effects experienced may be minor, such as nausea, insomnia and profuse sweating. As the physical health effects become more severe and pronounced, you or your love one face the risk of heart attack due to accelerated heartbeat, uncontrollable body spasms, stroke, respiratory issues, tremors and high blood pressure. Witnessing a loved one experience these side effects, or experiencing them yourself, can be frightening.
Handling the Addiction
- Dealing with the Impact on Family. No one wants to confront the reality that a loved one is using or has become addicted to drugs. The fact that fake weed is sold at gas stations and convenient stores provides many people with the false comfort that the substance isn’t dangerous. But parents and family members of those who’ve become addicted to synthetic marijuana know that its impact on the family is real and devastating. Watching someone’s personality and behavior transform over a short period of time is stressful and scary, leading families to fall victim to consequences as severe as separation and divorce. When you or a loved one become addicted to fake weed, the lives of those around you succumb to the damage caused by abuse and addiction, too.
- Seeking Treatment. If you or a loved one has attempted to quit using synthetic marijuana alone, you know that the withdrawal symptoms can be unbearable. Not only is it unpleasant to attempt to detox alone, it’s also very dangerous. A professional rehabilitation and treatment center is the best option for you or someone you love who’s addicted to fake weed. Healthcare providers and addictions counselors working with synthetic marijuana addicts are trained and experienced in dealing with the physical and mental effects of the drug, and can help you or a loved one progress safely and comfortably through the detoxification process. Once your body is free of synthetic marijuana, treatment continues with physical and mental healthcare, counseling sessions, and classes or workshops that help you or someone you love develop the skills necessary to remaining clean and sober.
- Avoiding Relapse through Aftercare. During treatment for addiction, you or your loved one will learn to identify triggers, as well as how to handle stressors that can lead to relapse. The availability of fake marijuana makes recovery maintenance a lifelong process. Participating in support groups or continuing your recovery with an out-patient treatment program can help you or someone you love fortify yourselves against the temptations that will be faced in the real world. If you are the parent of someone who’s gone through a spice or K2 rehabilitation program, family counseling can be an important part of your son or daughter’s aftercare program.
Joining the Fight Against these Drugs
For the past few years, federal, state and local governments have worked to prevent the sale of synthetics. Since those first efforts, Poison Control, non-governmental organizations and educational systems have joined in the efforts to raise awareness about the dangers of using these drugs. These organizations and groups will continue to work to prevent manufacturers from finding new chemical compositions that allow them to get around the law. In the meantime, educating teens and young adults about the dangers of these drugs remains an important part of the efforts. Your efforts at home and in the lives of those you care about can help family members make the choice to steer clear of synthetics.
- Educating Your Children. Teens and young adults may be inclined to follow their friends and try fake marijuana or bath salts. They might not fear the drug because no one really talks about the long-term consequences of using it, and this can provide a false sense of confidence. The truth is that the long-term effects of using synthetic drugs are something authorities and physicians can only speculate about at this point. 10 or 20 years from now, there will be a great deal more information about what happens to someone when they continue abusing these drugs for a long time. Educating your teens or young adults about the short-term consequences and side effects, and keeping the lines of communication open can help them choose to avoid these.
- Reaching Out on Behalf of a Loved One. Many times an addict is unable to seek help for him or herself. The erratic behavior, hallucinations and paranoia make it impossible to reason with a loved one and tell him or her that help is needed. If you fear for your loved one’s health and safety, seeking help on their behalf can be the most loving thing to do. Reaching out for professional help can also be the one single act that spares the person you love from serious harm or death.
There is Hope for Recovery and a Life After Addiction
Until a few years ago, no one expected they might be dealing with a loved one’s addiction to a drug purchased from the gas station or local convenience store. The unique characteristics of this drug and its easy availability have created a new kind of drug epidemic among young people nationwide. It may seem that you or your loved one have become too entrenched in addiction to recover, but there is hope for life after synthetic drug addiction.
Choose not to listen to the lies, excuses and defenses that allow addiction to continue. Seek help for yourself or someone you love from a professional treatment center where compassionate care can help you or your loved one heal. A life of hope, health and happiness is possible with a recovery program for synthetic drug addiction.