A new drug threat

Thursday, February 3, 2011

In the war against drugs, the battles come fast and it's sometimes difficult to recognize the enemy you're fighting. Recently, a new kind of dangerous drug has entered the local scene, and I think it's important that our readers, and parents in particular, have information on the latest threat to our young people.

The new drugs often go by exotic names such as Cloud Nine, Spice, Pulse, Red Dove, Vanilla Sky and Ocean. These names describe synthetic products or "drugs" such as incense, potpourri and bath salts, which are not meant for human consumption but when ingested promise a euphoric high to the naive users.

According to Barry County Sheriff Mick Epperly and Cassville Police Chief Dana Kammerlohr, these synthetic drugs have landed several people in emergency rooms, and it's now clear these drugs, which have been popular in larger cities for about a year, have made their way to Cassville and surrounding communities.

These products are banned in much of Europe and began showing up in the United States last year. Individuals can purchase the sythetic drugs online and at retail stores, truck stops and convenience stores. There are even a few places in the Monett area that sell the products, Epperly said. The sythetic products are not illegal to sell but they are clearly marked "not for human consumption." Word has spread over the internet in drug-themed chat rooms that the products are "natural" and when snorted, sniffed or smoked are similar to cocaine and marijuana.

In the search for another drug and a new high, users of these sythetic products are also discovering serious side effects that include extreme paranoia, hallucinations, vomiting, rapid heartbeat, severe depression and suicidal thoughts. The products are sold as "safe and soothing" but are nothing short of very dangerous synthetic stimulants designed as alternatives to methamphetamine and cocaine. The products, which come in a powder form, also produce intense cravings for more of the drug in users.

We hope it won't be long until lawmakers catch up with this latest trend in "designer" drugs and ban the products, like they did K2, a sythetic marijuana, last year. In the meantime, parents need to be aware of the availability of these products and educate their children about the risks of ingesting what seems to be a legal, harmless substance. As always, the war against drugs involves the public, who can stay engaged through knowledge and education.

Lisa Schlichtman