It's been crack, methamphetamines, even prescription drugs. Lately, the talk of dangerous drugs has been about something different: the innocuous sounding bath salts. These, along with the synthetic cannabis known as K2, have caused an uproar across the nation and the here in Clay County.
The bath salts in question here are not something that one would buy at a bath store though, but are ones containing stimulants similar to amphetamines or cocaine.
This rise in the use abuse and incidents related to bath salts and K2 has led area health care, anti-drug and law enforcement personnel to call for an educational forum on bath salts and K2.
This educational forum is for all Clay County residents and will be held on Thursday, August 25, at 6:30 p.m. at the Flora High School Auditorium.
"We have seen an increase in our ER in people who have taken K2 and bath salts," said Amanda Goostree, Clay County Hospital's Chief Nursing Executive (CNE).
Goostree said that the abuse of K2 and bath salts has resulted in 10 emergency room visits in Clay County since April. Eight of these were serious enough to require transfers to other facilities.
"That got us thinking that we needed to do something," said Goostree," So I contacted Louie (Louie Lusk of the Clay County Coalition Against Drug Abuse) and said, 'Will you help us?'"
Clay County Hospital's Marie Headlee says that the ER has been inundated with questions about bath salts and K2. "Nobody knows what it is, what does it do to your body. We just felt we needed to educate the public."
"I call it an information lag," said Lusk, adding that while law enforcement, probation, courts, schools, the healthcare and prevention communities and even Teen REACH know about these problems, the details are harder to come by, at least for those not working in the above fields.
"These things are moving so fast, the ordinary citizen doesn't know what's going on," said Lusk, "And one of the reasons it is this way is that the drug of choice changes so often."
"One of the purposes of this community forum is to educate and to inform our communities in Clay County about what there is out there," said Lusk, "What it looks like, what it can do and how to recognize these substances."
These drugs are somewhat easy to come by, because they are designer drugs. Chemical compounds have been created changed and tweaked. Quick acting has made K2 illegal in Illinois as of January 1. The Flora City Council has put statutes in place making both K2 and bath salts illegal. The DEA has temporarily scheduled some of the components of these drugs as illegal while they make permanent decisions.
Page 2 of 2 - Their evolving legality aside, these drugs are dangerous. The stimulant in the contentious bath salts, Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), is reportedly three times as potent as that found in Ritalin, widely abused on its own.
K2 and similar synthetic cannabis like spice were originally touted as being herbal smoking blends or incenses until it was discovered that they contained synthetic (manufactured) cannabinoids. Adverse health effects associated with its use include seizures, hallucinations, paranoid behavior, agitation, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, racing heartbeat and elevated blood pressure.
Of all the dangers associated with these drugs though, the biggest one is people's lack of knowledge about them, hence the educational forum.
"It's going to be a combination of people that we're going to have there," said Goostree, "It's going to be law enforcement, Louie is going to speak from CADA, we're going to get the medical community to speak, we're even going to get a kid to speak that has taken it."
This is quickly becoming a nationwide problem. Goostree, Lusk and Headlee want to make sure that they can at least offer county-wide education on it.
"We want to make sure that we need the community, the whole community," said Headlee, "We need to let Louisville, Clay City, and Xenia know. Everybody is invited and they need to know."