Synthetic drugs deadly, damaging, dangerous

Of all the illegal drugs bought and sold by teenagers in the United States, marijuana is easily the most common. At a record 30-year peak, it beats the steady decline of alcohol, cigarettes and cocaine. According to a recent survey of all U.S. students, about one in 15 high school students smokes on a daily basis, but while the legalization of marijuana continues to remain a hotly debated issue, a new member of the drug scene should have no right to speak.

Synthetic drugs are the latest addition to tobacco outlets and gas stations. These chemical concoctions, unfortunately legal, intend to imitate the effects of illegal drugs and induce extreme reactions including seizures, aggression and paranoia. Raging in popularity among high school seniors, a new study reveals that one in nine has smoked synthetic marijuana in the last year, adding up to about 11 percent of 18-year-olds in the United States. What’s worse, these drugs are the culprits of more than 6,000 calls to poison control centers this year, doubling last year’s number, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Startling? Yes. Worrisome? Even more so.

On Nov. 30, Des Moines teenager J.C. Holmes fell victim to a synthetic drug entitled “100% Pure Evil.” After buying it from a local liquor store, he smoked the marijuana-looking substance and soon began choking on his own vomit. After being rushed to the Mercy Medical Center emergency room by his terrified mother, he slipped into a coma.

Clearly, synthetic drugs can pose even greater risks than their illegal counterparts. Sometimes called “spice,” “K2,” “herbal incense,” and “bath salts,” they continue to entice teenagers for their legality, though as horrifying as they are. Last year, David Rozga of Indianola High School committed suicide after smoking K2 with friends.

Lawmakers continually struggle to outlaw synthetic drugs, but drug companies must only slightly change the makeup of their chemical creations in order to keep them on the shelves. Like an evolving virus, the synthetic drug cannot be caught.

As a fellow high school senior myself, I commend those who do not partake in using synthetic drugs. As for those who do, let me say this: I have no power in stopping you, nor clearly do many others. You have learned how to avoid discovery by your family, your school and your friends. You can buy your pleasure drug at numerous convenience stores. You even have your own favorite place to go to get your mind-ripping high, but be wary of when you catch yourself starting to snap, because your hours may be numbered.

Quite literally, in America, the synthetic drug smokes you.

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