Alabama health officials warn about dangers of synthetic drugs - WRBL

Alabama health officials warn about dangers of synthetic drugs

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AUBURN, Ala. - After a statewide round-up of illegal synthetic drugs, Alabama health officials are warning about their dangers. Dr. Jim McVay with the Alabama Department of Public Health says many young adults try these products thinking they are less dangerous, but he says that's not the case.

"Rapid heart rate, there can be nausea and vomiting. There can be confusion in the patient," said Dr. McVay.

These are just a few of the symptoms emergency room officials see when dealing with some patients who use synthetic drugs. The Alabama Department of Public Health says in the past 4 years the Regional Control Center at Children's of Alabama has received 173 calls about synthetic drugs. Most of the calls were from young adults. Police departments, like in Auburn, are working to keep them off the streets.

"It's a problem really everywhere because the problem with it is people never really know what's they're consuming when they use that," said Paul Register, Auburn Police Chief.

Register says his department played a role in this week's statewide roundup of synthetic drugs. They searched 2 businesses and 1 residence in the area. They found what they believe to be synthetic drugs, but they are still testing them. Dr. Jim McVay says the compound in these synthetic substances change rapidly to keep ahead of the drug schedule.

"They are spraying chemicals on any type of vegetation. Anything that will burn. These are made in back rooms, in clandestine operations. They have no idea the strength of these," said Dr. McVay.

McVay says the long term consequences can also be dangerous. Kidney failure and respiratory problems are just a few. Continual use of the drugs can cause hallucinations, confusion, and paranoia. Chief Register says his department will continue to be diligent in pursing these illegal substances.

"The packages always say not for human consumption and there's a reason for that," said Register.

Naomi Keitt

Naomi Keitt focuses on education reporting for WRBL News 3. More>>

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