I saw a teenager that had a negative drug test. That sounds like good news but she confessed to her parent that she had been using marijuana recently. That has me really worried. Perhaps you’ve heard of K2 or ‘Spice’?

It’s a designer drug that was created to exhibit the same effects as marijuana but it’s not marijuana…it’s more dangerous. The liquid is sprayed onto dried plants that look like marijuana or mixed into other liquids to vape. It used to be sold over the counter as ‘potpourri’ and labeled ‘not for human consumption’. (At least they were honest about the second part!) It’s illegal now. States now recognize the dangers of K2 but we’re still behind the growing epidemic of its use. The makers of K2 are constantly tweaking this drug to add new chemicals and avoid detection in drug screens.

 There are several points you should know.
1. It looks like marijuana but it’s effects are more unpredictable and range from hallucinations, increase suicidal thoughts, increased heart rate to kidney failure and even death. Other than testing in a lab, you and/or your teenager cannot tell the difference.
2. Like marijuana, K2 is addictive.
3. You can experience withdrawal from this drug.
4. Contamination with other agents is not uncommon. These drugs are often produced in basements and alleys in China or Russia, not in some sterile laboratory. A cluster of deaths was reported in Chicago when this drug was mixed with Brodifacoum (similar to coumadin- rat poison). These patients experienced internal bleeding that was unresponsive to any medication given to stop it.

It is estimated that 200 synthetic cannabinoids are sold on the street today and the escalation of both phone calls to the poison control and trips to the Emergency departments across the nation are indicative of how dangerous this can be. I’m scared. You should be too….

Susan Badaracco, pediatrician and author of “The Oath” series