Talking to children is a parent’s best defense against their child’s use of synthetic drugs. In a culture where psychiatry and Big Pharmaceutical companies have made drug use commonplace among our youth, it may be wise to take another look at the side effects not only of the new and dangerous synthetic drugs, but of the often prescribed ones as well. The best defense may well be open communication with young children and teenagers.
There are synthetic drugs so harmful that children have ended up in psych wards after ingesting them. This is no wonder, but of course the psychiatrists have no idea how to treat what is obviously a physical reaction to a toxic substance, not a mental illness. The director of the Louisiana Poison Center, Mark Ryan, pointed out that powerful antipsychotics were used by some doctors to “calm” users when sedatives failed. The antipsychotics, of course, are incredibly dangerous in themselves. Obviously, being falsely diagnosed as mentally ill while in a psychiatric hospital can be a traumatic and dangerous situation in itself.
Since hospital employees are unfamiliar with treatment for such abuse, there exists a real danger of misdiagnosis and improper treatment. As of now, there is no reliable medical test for synthetic drug use. Only anecdotal evidence can point to its existence.
Drug abusers compare the effects of synthetic drugs to that of methamphetamine, with the addition of extreme anger, hallucinations and physical anxiety so strenuous as to be uncontrollable. One emergency room doctor reported that he has had to administer “the equivalent” of general anesthesia to persons suffering extreme toxic effects from synthetic drugs.
Side effects of the synthetic drugs may include paranoia, panic attacks, depression, reduced perception of reality and difficulty in thinking clearly. Some have even committed suicide days after using these easy to purchase drugs.
One of the most insidious things about these substances is the fact that they are sold legally in many states. Inexpensive and marked “not for human consumption,” they have managed to slip right by the FDA, often sold as bath salts and plant food. Some of the drugs are manufactured overseas, in Pakistan and other countries, by rogue chemists. Thankfully, some states are starting to ban them, encouraged by the many poison control centers around the country having to deal with emergency calls after synthetic drug use.
In September of 2011 the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced plans to make selling or possessing synthetic drugs of this nature illegal in the USA. This will be an emergency action that will be effective for a year. During this time, it is expected that the government will call for permanent control of the drugs.
Many of the side effects of synthetic drugs (including suicidality, heart problems, paranoia, anger, hallucinations) sound similar to warnings on prescribed psychiatric medications. One hopes the DEA will inspect the dangers of these drugs at the same time. Shouldn’t our children be protected from drug abuse whether it lines the pockets of a chemist in Pakistan or a psychiatrist in New York City?