More outreach, education needed on new drugs

Yet again our community is forced to combat another wave of designer drugs hitting the streets.

This time the game is different -- they're not the names and substances that have been around for decades well documented as dangerous.

These drugs are known in circles as "bath salts," "plant food" and "air freshener" and are marketed and branded with names like "Vanilla Sky."

But make no mistake; these drugs are just as destructive as those that came before it and will likely come after.

They act like methamphetamine and cocaine with added hallucinations and are composed of Mephedrone and Methylenedioxypyrovalerone. Users snort, inject or smoke the drugs, which come in powder and crystal forms.

Synthetic versions of more common drugs also exist such as "spice" and "K2," which imitate the effects of marijuana, but are just as dangerous as the rest.

These drugs are made in a way as to sneak under the radar of illegal substance laws and testing and local officials have reported and increase in overdoses from them. The consequences can be life-altering and deadly.

On first impression, it is hard to grasp the fact that there's yet another drug we need to be concerned about. Another substance newer and just as dangerous with a name more elusive.

It is easy to just stop caring when the statistics don't have faces, or when the drugs might not be in our immediate field of vision.

But we can't give up.

The Kenai Peninsula health community has done well so far in combating the new wave of them -- designer drugs like ecstasy and meth -- as well as prescription drug abuse. But more is needed -- always.

Specifically, parents need to take it upon themselves to talk with their children and teenagers about all forms of drug abuse and the dire consequences. They need to take it upon themselves and ask the tough questions and report drug activity to the authorities.

These drugs are also different in the ways and method they are manufactured. They are cooked from dangerous chemicals one wouldn't otherwise think of putting in their bodies under any circumstances. Those making these experimental substances are likely drug addicts themselves and care nothing about whom they are selling to or what might happen to them when they take them.

Experimenting with any drugs, especially these made-from-scratch ones, is like playing Russian Roulette with one's life. Effects can be wild and unpredictable.

As a community we need to take it upon ourselves to reach out and bring the subject to light.

The key, as always, is education.

We would encourage our local officials and law enforcement to continue to be proactive in the fight against these drugs. Although they may be harder to identify and in a grey area of legality, the sooner and more aggressively we start, the more a difference we can make.

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