Synthetic drug use on the rise - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Synthetic drug use on the rise

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Young Iowans use of synthetic drugs is on the rise. Now a new state-wide campaign is taking aim at these drugs by educating the public about their dangers.

Many of these synthetic drugs can be bought at local convenience stores legally. And that's why state officials want to get the word out about the dangers.

These synthetic drugs mimic marijuana, cocaine, and other illegal substances, but they are sold as herbal incense, potpourri, or bath salts. They are labeled, "Not for human consumption," but according to state officials far too many young people are doing just that.

"I've had more kids hospitalized with synthetics than any other substance that I've seen and that's just in the last year," said Abbey Quinn, a counselor at Pathways, Behavioral Services in Waterloo.

Quinn helps young people who are suffering from addiction and she says these new synthetic drugs have reached every corner of Black Hawk County.

"So Waterloo-Cedar Falls. I mean it's every where," said Quinn.

"They are not what they are made out to be and they have no known redeeming value," said Dale Woolery, the Associate Director of the Governor's Office of Drug Control Policy.

This new campaign was created to help educate young people and their parents about the dangers of these drugs.

"The law past last year in Iowa outlawed six so in a year's time we've gone from knowing about six to knowing and finding 29 and we know that list is longer than that," said Woolery.

This year the Iowa legislature is looking at making more than 400 of these substances illegal. It's believed their side effects are just too dangerous.

"It's a huge problem from anxiety to paranoia to irregular heart beats, seizures. It's just really bad side effects," said Quinn.

Mike and Jan Rozga of Indianola have made it their mission to bring awareness to the dangers of synthetic drugs. Their son David, committed suicide after smoking "K-2" a form of synthetic marijuana, which is now illegal. He was suffering from hallucinations and anxiety at the time.

The Speak Out Against Synthetic Drugs initiative includes public service messages and other informational materials. These online materials provide tips on identifying and talking about synthetic drugs, as well as training materials for professionals.

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