For years, the most commonly abused drugs in teens included marijuana,
heroin, and cocaine. The times are clearly changing and most parents would
be surprised to learn that there is a new problem on the horizon. Synthetic
drugs are not just dangerous, they’re deadly, and news stories are
popping up about the serious nature of these outwardly unassuming substances.
What are synthetic drugs?
Although they sound like something out of a sci-fi movie, synthetic drugs
are unfortunately very real. The drugs are chemically laced with illegal
substances that are intended to mimic the effects of marijuana and cocaine.
Made from chemicals and dried plants, synthetic drugs often resemble bath
salts or powdery substances.
The most popular forms of synthetic drugs include:
Spice: Similar to the high one achieves off of marijuana, “spice”
is also sold under the names K2 and fake weed. Health consequences include
rapid heart rate, hallucinations, and increased blood pressured. Spice
is illegal to sell, buy, or possess.
Molly: MDMA is changed into a powder, encapsulated, and taken orally. The drug
is similar to cocaine and can even cause major organ failure. “Molly”
often includes other drugs, which can increase its harmfulness.
Bath salts: A group of drugs is combined with synthetic chemicals to appear similar
to bath salts. The powder is consumed orally or by inhalation and can
cause serious heart problems and paranoia.
Krokodil: This drug is highly addictive, as it is designed to resemble heroine.
Users suffer from disturbing side effects and the drug is slowly becoming
more popular in the U.S.
What warning signs should I look for in my child?
One of the biggest dangers of synthetic drugs is that their potency is
much stronger than a normal substance. Even users who ingest just a few
grains of the drug can immediately get high. One researcher said that
some synthetic drugs cause users to lose control and forget that they
ever took the drug, once the effects wear off.
So what can alert you to possible synthetic drug usage? Look for seizures,
hallucinations, paranoia, and aggression. Less noticeable signs might
include agitation, excessive sweating, an inability to speak, and heart
palpitations. Symptoms can stick around for several days or hours.
Ryan Albaugh and his team at Albaugh Law Firm are concerned about the threat
that synthetic drugs pose to young people in St. Augustine, Jacksonville
and throughout Northeast Florida. Ryan weighed in on the issue, saying:
We are seeing more and more cases of kids trying synthetic drugs in Duval
and St. Johns County. There is a potentially deadly misconception among
young people that, because they can legally buy the substances they are
using, they must be safe. Smoke shops and convenience stores up and down
the First Coast are trying to stay one step ahead of the changing laws,
and so long as they can, our children and families will continue to pay
Synthetic drugs are highly addictive, so one instance might be a warning
sign that an addiction has already begun. It is crucial that you talk
openly with your children about the dangers of synthetic drug use and
ask them to be honest with you.
One hard conversation could end up saving your child’s life.
For more information about synthetic drugs and the impact they are having
on our community, follow these links:
Despite playful packaging designed to attract teens, synthetic drugs contain
The Florida Times Union, October 3, 2014
Survey: Middle schoolers experiment with alcohol, drugs”
News 4 Jax, January 19, 2015
Hillsborough County settles pot case”
The St. Augustine Record, July 6, 2014
One pleads, one set for trial in synthetic drug production investigation”
The St. Augustine Record, February 10, 2015
Eleven people in custody as part of a multi-agency synthetic drug investigation”
The St. Augustine Record, September 13, 2013
Protecting Floridians from Synthetic Drugs
Florida Office of the Attorney General
About Synthetic Drugs
Office of National Drug Control Policy