Laundry list of synthetic drugs continues to grow - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Laundry list of synthetic drugs continues to grow

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -

The laundry list of substances targeted in the "war on drugs" just got longer. Synthetic drugs, like K2, "Spice," and bath salts are popping up everywhere. What may look harmless on store shelves may mask a drug with dangerous side effects.

Michelle Siebrecht is a physician's assistant, and she knows when one of her patient's has taken a synthetic drug.

"We've seen people coming in feeling very nervous and paranoid on these newer synthetic type of drugs. Feeling like their heart is racing, some chest pains, some shortness of breath," said Michelle Siebrecht, PA-C at Mercy Medical Center.

The synthetics are sold as "K2", or "bath salts." While it seems like a harmless alternative to more addictive drugs, the danger lies in the way their made.

"It can be cut with any type of product and they don't know what it is," said Siebrecht.

"So the user often doesn't know exactly what they're taking," said Linda Kalin, Director of the Iowa Poison Control Center.

Health officials say there are several reasons why synthetic drug use is on the rise.

"The availability and word of mouth by the users. I think because they're not easily detected, that's makes it more attractive to the user if the testing is not there," said Kalin.

"I think that people are thinking 'oh they're legal so it must not be all that bad for me' and so they think they can try something and get a high off it and still not get in trouble with the law or their family members," said Siebrecht.

Kalin says that 60 percent of the cases reported are users under the age of 25.

"But that also means 40 percent is over the age of 25. So we're seeing in Iowa at the poison center, we've seen cases from teenage all the way up to age 57," said Kalin.

While experts don't know the long-term effects, they stress the synthetic drugs are still dangerous.

"It is bad for them. You don't even know what you are ingesting and it could be potentially very dangerous, and I hope to not see them in my ER anytime soon," said Siebrecht.

The drug "K2" is banned in all three Siouxland states. If you're caught with it, it's a misdemeanor. It's also illegal to sell it.

The drug "K2" is banned in all three Siouxland states.  If you're caught with it, it's a misdemeanor.  It's also illegal to sell it.

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