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Drugs and Kids

EDITORIAL

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Safe high? Yeah right.

Synthetic drugs are harmful substances that are created from man-made chemicals. The notion that they would provide a “safe high” is downright crazy.

The chemicals that make up synthetic drugs are straight out of a lab. They are then sprayed on leaves or grass clippings and wrapped up in colorful, inviting pouches and packets which clearly state “not for human consumption” and “collector’s item.”

First of all, human consumption is precisely what these drugs are used for. Secondly, the term “collector’s item” could not be more incorrect in this context.

To make these drugs seem even more inviting to the clueless, or rather, to those who pretend to be, each packet is advertised with a cool, funny name. Cool and funny is exactly the opposite of what this lighthearted packaging truly contains.

There are countless brands of synthetic drugs. Bath salts, a stimulant made from the khat plant, are among the most infamous. There is also Black Mamba, another form of poison that can cause memory loss, violence, and fits. Then there is Smiles, a hallucinogenic drug otherwise known as 2C-I. It causes intense hallucinations that can last for days. Other side effects include panic attacks, anxiety, nausea and vomiting.

When these drugs arrive in the U.S, they can be purchased at convenience stores and gas stations that are willing to sell them. Unfortunately, that is not the only place they can be found. The number one distribution method of synthetic drugs is online.

Since synthetic drugs are so readily available, the Drug Enforcement Agency, or DEA, has been working hard to make it more difficult to acquire the drugs. According to CNN, this has resulted in 172 arrests and more than 20,000 pounds of synthetic drugs collected over the past few months.

Unfortunately, the situation is only worsening. Synthetic marijuana is now 20 times more potent than it was 40 years ago.

While the media is focusing the Opioid epidemic, the topic of synthetic drugs is neglected, and these drugs are allowed to take hold. That’s not to say that the Opioid epidemic isn’t a big deal, because it is. The issue of synthetic drugs is just forgotten, despite the fact that these drugs are still killing people.

All manner of people invest in synthetic drugs, including children. One of the main appeals of synthetic drugs is their packaging. Colorful packets and fun brand names make the drugs seem harmless and fun. In truth, they are neither.

There are other ways children suffer the effects of synthetic drugs. A child is also, quite unfairly, exposed to the repercussions of drugs when their mother consumes those drugs during pregnancy.

According to Medscape, about 20% of women worldwide take drugs while pregnant, a good portion of whom are not even aware of the harm they are causing to their unborn child.

If transmitted to a child through their mother’s pregnancy, synthetic drugs can cause serious problems for that child such as learning and developmental deficiencies, not to mention constant health problems. Direct consumption can lead to multiple organ failure and, in some cases, death.

According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, roughly 2.2 million of the world’s children are living with or affected by a parent that is dependent on drugs.

Despite all of this, there is a way to halt the spread of synthetic drugs. Continue to learn about drugs and how harmful they are, and teach others, as well. Find a way to talk to those who have stumbled into the world of drugs, and offer to help them. Do not be afraid to openly stand against drugs, and never, ever, speak of them lightly.

Luckily, some actions have already been taken. Effective since 2011, all 50 states in the U.S have banned both cannabinoids, synthetic marijuana such as “spice” or “K2”, and cathinones such as “bath salts”, but there is still much work to be done. According to cadca.org, regulations are failing to keep pace with the production and distribution of new drugs. This needs to change.

Manufacturers of synthetic drugs are constantly altering the chemical compounds in the drugs to find loopholes in ban attempts and evade punishment. Congress needs to be more attentive in diminishing loopholes and creating bans that actually work. This is a big issue.

If a student from a small middle school in Kingsport, Tennessee can see that, then our lawmakers can, too.

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Drugs and Kids