Aimed at kids and young adults, parents need to be on the lookout for them too. Synthetic drugs. Often sold as incense or bath salts, they are readily available at some convenience stores and on the internet.
“There is nothing good about them from a health standpoint at all. But there’s clearly a lot of unknowns,” says Dr. Timothy Dougherty, toxicologist and emergency physician with Lee Memorial Health System.
The drugs are mystery mixtures, a cocktail of chemicals. Some are touted as substitutes for marijuana, stimulants, and a new one nicknamed the ‘n-bomb’, as an alternative to LSD.
“Unfortunately every six months or so something new comes along,” says Dougherty.
Dr. Timothy Dougherty is a toxicologist who works in the emergency department at Lee Memorial Health System.
“When we find a trend of phone calls that are coming in, we can send that information nationwide saying ‘Be On the Look Out’ for these type of things, and these are the names that they’re using,” says Dr. Dougherty.
As fast as officials can ban one ingredient, another potentially toxic mix takes its place. Used as party drugs, people take them with no idea what they’re getting into.
“Short term, we’ve seen what happens. Their heart rate gets very quick, their blood pressure rises, they become paranoid. We’re seeing them a lot more frequently. We have had to admit people in the hospital and give them medication to calm them down,” says Dr. Dougherty.
The long-term effects are unknown.
“I’m sure that these drugs, especially if they cause the spike in blood pressure and lead to an intracranial bleed or a blood vessel breaking open, because of how high their blood pressure is, that’s obviously going to be a permanent event,” says Dr. Dougherty.
Synthetic drugs are responsible for a growing number of deaths. The takeaway for parents: these fake substances pose a real danger.