Designer drugs raise concerns

With the dangers of designer drugs masked by innocent names such as “Scooby Snax,” one of many nicknames for K2 and “bath salts,” another name for synthetic cathinones, many people have turned to them due mostly to the fact that most don’t show up on drug tests.

However, the dangers of these drugs far outweigh the dangers of tobacco and marijuana.

Krokodil, or “poor man’s heroin,” is an example of synthetic drugs being more dangerous than natural drugs. Krokodil, a mixture of paint thinner, codeine, gasoline and other toxic ingredients, is similar to heroin, though it is eight to 10 times more potent and the effects last for a shorter time than its counterpart. Krokodil, however, rots the users’ skin, causing green, scaly patches, similar to a crocodile’s hide, hence the name “Krokodil,” Russian for “crocodile.” Regular users of Krokodil have an expected lifespan of only a couple of years if used daily.

There have even been reports of this drug being used in the local area. Two Duncan men are alleged to have died after using Krokodil; these claims are not substantiated by evidence, though a friend of one of the victims, Chelle Fancher, said “everything that touched him took his skin off,” according to an article on koco.com.

Another example is synthetic marijuana, known colloquially as “K2” or “Spice.” Synthetic marijuana is a mixture of natural herbs sprayed with deadly chemicals, so as to mimic the effects of THC, without showing up on drug tests. K2 is incense, and sold with a warning label that reads “Not for human consumption.” K2 can cause serious health issues, such as breathing problems, lung damage and even death. There was even a case her at the high school of a student being put in the hospital because of Spice.

“We’re seeing a lot of children coming in with complaints of chest pains,” said Dr. Colin Kane, a pediatric cardiologist at the Children’s Medical Center of Dallas, in an interview on the Children’s Medical Center of Dallas’ YouTube channel.

Due to these health concerns, K2 has been banned in 41 states, including Oklahoma, and in Puerto Rico.

Another common drug is ecstasy. Ecstasy is popular among teens and young adults who go to “rave parties.” Ecstasy was first used in the early 1980s in the discos of Ibiza, an island off the coast of Spain popular for clubbing, so the clubgoers could heighten their experience.

However, ecstasy was not always used as a recreational drug. Ecstasy was formally used in therapy sessions to evoke a feeling of openness, according to drugfoundation.org.nz. However, in recent years, there has been a surge of users; in 2008, an estimated 10 to 25 million people used ecstasy at least once, according to the United Nations.

The effects of ecstasy are highly dangerous. They include hyperthermia and hyponatremia. Hyperthermia is extreme body heat, which can be extremely fatal when mixed with dancing at clubs, which causes heavy perspiration. Hyponatremia is an electrolyte disturbance in which sodium ion concentration in the plasma is lower than normal, which can cause congestive heart failure, liver and kidney failure, pneumonia and even death. These effects are what usually lead to death while on ecstasy.

The dangers of synthetic drugs are there, though they may not be obvious at first, and more and more people are falling prey to the deadly side-effects, a fact that hasn’t gained the attention it needs.