Law enforcement agencies throughout the country have reported that the number of synthetic drug overdoses is on the rise. Synthetic drugs are man-made substances that are created in a warehouse or laboratory, consisting of various chemicals that often have no regulation. They can be found in stores where they are packaged as potpourri or bath salts or they can be purchased over the internet from overseas. Synthetic drugs are especially tempting for young people because they are often easier to obtain.
While the drugs may claim to be similar to street drugs, the side effects are not. Synthetic drug abusers can experience extreme reactions such as hallucinations, paranoia, suicidal thoughts, seizures or brain damage. This is likely due to the mix of chemicals that they are ingesting. The FDA has worked to make the different ingredients in synthetic drugs illegal, however manufacturers are constantly changing the recipes, making it difficult for the FDA and DEA to keep up.
In addition to South Florida, another area that is experiencing a rapid increase in the synthetic drug problems is Washington, DC. According to the DC police department, they are responding to at least 20 synthetic overdose calls a day. The sheer volume of the overdose calls has required the police department to change the way they handle these types of emergencies.
“The crews are now trained to be alert for patterns of overdoses. We’ll send a battalion chief, an EMS supervisor, to establish an incident command and essentially treat it as a slow moving mass casualty event,” explained Deputy Chief Rafael Sa’adah.
Emergency crews warn that some people who overdose on synthetic drugs did not do so because they consumed a large quantity. Some people overdose simply because the chemicals are so powerful that even one hit can send them over the edge and require emergency medical attention. Some of the most common types of substances in this category include synthetic marijuana, bath salts and other similar chemicals.