Recent popularity of synthetic forms of harmful drugs has caused concern within the DEA. Synthetic marijuana, especially, has been highly publicized as a more “healthy” alternative to the real substance. Due to its legality and accessibility, it is becoming more popular with youth, seen as an easy and cheap high. Despite the manner in which it is advertised, recent studies have shown synthetic marijuana to be just as dangerous, if not more so, than its natural counterpart.
It is highly likely that the increasing popularity of these synthetic substances will cause an increase in the need for drug rehabilitation, especially amongst youth. Many use the substance without taking time to learn about how it is produced. Herbs are sprayed with a variety of chemicals that simulate the effects of THC. In fact, the DEA found that certain brands contain chemicals which could be five times more potent than marijuana, and highly dangerous in respect to both long-term and short-term use. Many states, like Oklahoma, started banning these cannabinoids in 2010.
The U.S. Naval Academy has expelled a total of eleven midshipmen so far this year for the possession or use of synthetic marijuana. Although it can be purchased legally, the academy recognizes the potential dangers associated with any amount of use, and treats its use equally to the use of any other form of controlled substance. While offering drug rehabilitation for these offenders seems like a more effective solution as opposed to complete expulsion, the academy is making an effort to address the issue on a school-wide level, as well as monitoring online access to synthetic drug websites. Potential effects from use include increased heart rate, hallucination, and increased blood pressure, not to mention countless others. The chemicals used to enhance these effects also have a tendency to attach themselves to the brain, upping the chance of long-term, or even fatal, effects. Conveniently, these chemicals are not advertised on synthetic marijuana packaging, eliminating the possibility for interested buyers to know what they are putting into their bodies.
Because of the lack of information available to the public regarding synthetic drugs, many people will not realize the potential for a dangerous addiction while using these substances. If you or someone you know are showing signs of dependence, contact Vista Taos Addiction Center in New Mexico to speak with a counselor about the different types of drug rehabilitation programs available. Being proactive could potentially save the life of you or someone you love.