Designer drugs too risky to try

Merchants shouldn't stock synthetic drugs
Sep 30, 2012

It’s clear Haywood County has a drug problem. Prescription drug addiction has taken the lives of hundreds of people in our county alone. But the scariest trend in substance abuse is rising in popularity, and it’s perfectly legal.

Cropping up in the nation only five years ago, synthetic drugs are a fairly new addition to the drug scene, which means there is little known about the drugs — or treatment for those using them.

The so-called designer drugs provide a quick, intense high, it’s cheap, widely available, legal and doesn’t show up in drug tests.

But then there’s the terrifying flip side.

The famous incident in Florida when a man chewed off the face of another man while under the influence of bath salts is an extreme example of the side effects.

Locally, doctors are seeing patients with extreme insomnia, paranoia, wild hallucinations of bugs crawling on their skin, delusion and violence. Some experience convulsions, elevated heart rates, heart attacks and death.

Schools and parents are finding kids with the shiny packages, which they can easily purchase at gas stations without any restrictions.

Local doctors have also treated a number of professional adults, who lost their jobs and families because of their addiction to synthetic drugs.

Perhaps the most frightening aspect of synthetic drugs is not knowing what the long- term effects could be.

Loaded with chemicals such as those used in the insecticide Raid, synthetics can almost certainly be linked to cancer.

Some research even suggests that the chemicals in bath salts could trigger a person to become schizophrenic by turning on a dormant gene.

Manufacturers, mostly in China, are the last people to care about what happens to the teens who snort the stuff and end up in a mental health ward. And skirting the law is as simple as changing one ingredient in the cocktail of chemicals in the packages with innocuous names like bath salts or spice.

While legislators play catch up to ban the substances, more and more teens are abusing synthetic drugs.

That’s why prevention and awareness will play the biggest role in stemming the next drug epidemic.

A number of grassroots efforts have cropped up to raise awareness about these drugs while both the Canton and Waynesville police departments have stepped up awareness efforts on the dangerous drugs in our midst.

Community residents are not powerless in this battle. Residents can pressure legislators to find a way to take synthetic drugs off the market.

Furthermore, while the designer drugs are perfectly legal, that doesn’t mean selling them is right. Many are available at convenience stores in the county. Consumers can take a proactive approach to finding out which merchants make these drugs available in our community and exerting their free-market right to not patronize them — and to get others who care to do the same thing.