Drug treatment counselors across KELOLAND are seeing a spike in people struggling with addiction to synthetic marijuana.
One counselor compares the addiction to other serious drug addictions, which can feel like basic needs.
"If you mow your lawn on a really hot day and you get really thirsty, you go inside and have a sip of water. What's the feeling you get? You want to chug that water in two seconds. Maybe even have another one," Stephanie Kucera, Keystone Treatment Center
Kucera is seeing more and more people trying to quench this thirst with synthetic marijuana. People are turning to it because it is easy to get and, unlike marijuana, it can clear a drug test. But, she said synthetic drugs are never truly out of your system.
"The craving for it is similar to opiates or amphetamines. You just really can't say no. Once you're addicted to it without some type of help," Kucera said.
Designer drugs have been bringing in kids younger than 20 who are experimenting with drugs for the first time, to other clients looking for a last resort.
"Past addicts just looking for another high. They've relapsed and have been told this is a stronger high that is more intense," Kucera said.
Symptoms she has seen include physical pain, anxiety, personality changes and depression. Kucera said it is too soon to tell if the withdrawal psychological, or actually physical, like coming off of alcohol. While treatment is an option for people hooked on synthetics, Kucera has the cure-all solution.
"First of all, don't use it for the first time and you won't ever have to worry about the rest," Kucera said. Side Effects (From SF School District):
· Increased heart rate
· Chest pains/agitation
· Extreme paranoia
More information on synthetic marijuana can be found on the K2 Drug Facts website
or the Prairie View Prevention Services website