A poison prevention specialist says the abuse of synthetic drugs remains a growing problem in Iowa. That’s despite new laws that ban the substances and highly publicized cases of Iowans being admitted to hospitals after smoking or snorting the chemicals.
Linda Kalin, director of the Iowa Statewide Poison Control Center, says calls concerning products such as “bath salts” or “K-2” having been on the rise. She said in August 2010, the center received zero calls about those items.
That’s compared to 30 calls about people being hospitalized after using the drugs in December 2011. Kalin is scheduled to deliver a presentation about synthetic drugs before the state’s Drug Policy Advisory Council this afternoon.
Kalin told Radio Iowa that most people, by now, have probably heard about the physical and psychological dangers of using K-2 or bath salts. She credits the marketing practices of the drug manufacturers for the continued uptick in abuse.
“These are marketed as ‘legal marijuana’ or ‘legal highs,’ even though many states have banned them or are in the process of banning them,” Kalin said. “Never the less, when you start to slap labels that say ‘plant food, bath salts, herbal incense, potpourri, marijuana-like substance’ – that’s not at all implying how dangerous these really are.”
Products such as K-2 are now illegal in Iowa, so – for the most part – they can’t be found in stores. “Unfortunately, the Internet is a whole different story,” Kalin said. “The purchase of these can be made through a number of websites throughout the world and they give direct delivery to the purchaser.”
The substances are said to produce a high similar to meth or cocaine, but Kalin said the chemicals used to produce K-2 or bath salts can vary from one package to another. So, while one user may not experience a high, another user could have hallucinations, become violent or have a seizure.