September 28, 2017

Synthetic Drugs and Vegas

Besides a horrifying opioid epidemic that is destroying the lives of many Nevadans, there are other drugs to worry about, including synthetic drugs.

One of these drugs is called Spice, also known as K-2, skunk, fake weed, genie and blaze herbal incense.

K-2 looks like chopped up herbs or dried plant material and is often disguised in little plastic packets. A while back, K-2 was sold as K-2 or Spice. But since K-2 has become known for having dangerous side effects, its name has been disguised. These days K-2 is sold under a variety of odd labels including like BIZARRO, Godfather and Geeked Up. Additionally, the packets have a small disclaimer that says, NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION. Some labels even claim that the product is all natural, and acquired from plants. Besides herbal incense, K-2 is marketed as liquid incense, and users smoke or inhale K-2 in a vapor form, or vape, which is more dangerous than smoking the drugs.

One website promoting K-2 asserts that K2 smokers have reported that by smoking a little K2 every day, they have become better people. This statement not only affirms the concept that people need to smoke something to become improved human beings, but the website itself is very definitive in telling unsuspecting consumers on how to smoke the stuff.

The website discusses the controversy surrounding K-2, as if overdoses and deaths from synthetic drugs are nothing short than horrifying. It goes on to say that their K-2 products are not made from illegal chemicals, and that K-2 is completely all natural and harmless.

The truth is that K-2 and other synthetic drugs are dangerous, and can have fatal consequences. And the marketing behind these drugs is deceptive.

K-2 is a synthetic cannabinoid, falling under the artificial drug umbrella.

And what exactly are synthetic cannabinoids?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, they are chemicals made in labs, and their chemicals are related to those found in the marijuana plant, hence the name synthetic cannabinoids. These chemicals are sprayed on plants. There’s nothing natural about synthetic drugs, except for the dried plants themselves.

Besides having a naïve idea that K-2 and Spice are completely natural, younger people buy these drugs because they are easy to obtain. The initial effects are similar to those found in THC.

These include a happy mood, relaxation, distorted awareness, and psychotic symptoms.

The symptoms of psychosis include seizures, dilated pupils, extreme agitation, anxiety, paranoia, confusion, and hallucinations. Some users who end up in the emergency room experience precipitous heart rates, violent behavior, suicidal ideations, vomiting and death.

Besides K-2, other synthetic drugs include bath salts, or synthetic cathinones, which parallel the side effects of methamphetamines and cocaine. Bath salt side effects include increased libido, increased energy, extreme agitation, violent behavior, excited delirium and panic attacks.

Users who experience excited delirium are prone to kidney failure, the failure of skeletal tissue and dehydration.

According to the National Institute for Drug Abuse, bath salts are snorted, ingested, smoked or swallowed. While marketed as a cheap alternative to cocaine, their effects can be ten times more powerful.

Bath salts are also advertised as potpourri, plant food and jewelry cleaner. This drug looks like white or brown powder and sold in plastic or foil packages.

Intoxication of bath salts often causes death, and those who snort or inject it are at a higher risk of dying.

There are other synthetic drugs including Molly, which gives side effects similar to MDMA and ecstasy. Molly can cause panic attacks, seizures and death. And then there is Mephedrone, which is an amphetamine, and whose effects, like bath salts, parallel those achieved by using cocaine.

In Las Vegas, there is a plethora of head shops that sell synthetic drugs under the guise of different names.

According to a 2015 Las Vegas Sun, regulating these drugs is difficult.  In Nevada, drugs are regulated by their chemical makeup, as opposed to their effects, which makes them difficult to regulate. Suppliers always seem to be one step ahead of the law. Once a certain formula becomes illegal and a supplier selling that formula gets caught, other suppliers catch wind and rearrange formulas so that their products can be legally sold.

Keith Carter, the director of a Nevada drug enforcement task force said that, in Nevada, most users are in their teens or early twenties. Part of the attraction to these drugs for younger people is the volatility. This fact is quite frightening, because some people who are drawn to unpredictable situations have underlying co-occurring disorders that are not addressed.

And like other drugs, the price of a synthetic high includes addiction, and the body developing a tolerance for the drug. And of course, when there is tolerance, a user needs more of the drug to get the high that they want.

And that’s how death occurs.

The body can only take so many foreign and dangerous chemicals.

So what is the solution?

Evidence-based practices including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can treat users who are addicted to synthetic drugs.

Treatment is important, also for those undergoing withdrawal symptoms from synthetic drugs.

At Cycles of Change Recovery Services, our Las Vegas office provides free treatment consultations.  In Las Vegas, we do mobile and phone assessments. Office assessments are offered, by appointment only. And we provide transportation to our beautiful rehab in Palmdale. First, you might need a stay in our sub-acute detox facility in Quartz Hill where you will be monitored around the clock by our experienced team of professionals. You will be provided with the appropriate level of care, as well as in-depth counseling.

After detox, you will enter one of our elegant gender-specific residences in Palmdale to undergo inpatient care. Our homes emanate classic Hollywood Hills allure in the pictorial Antelope Valley Desert.

Our clinical, evidence-based modalities treat substance abuse and co-occurring disorders, which are often the basis of chemical dependency. Our holistic approach treats mind, body and spirit. And our comprehensive 12-step program will help you find tranquility.

Recovery will provide you with a new beginning.

And you are not alone. Many of us have been there ourselves.

We look forward to your call.

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