JOPLIN, MO-- Local police are cracking down on a growing number of cases involving synthetic drugs like K2 and illegal bath salts. While there's a legal price to pay, using those drugs can also take a physical toll.
"They don't think of it as something like a heroin that they know is bad for them, is going to have bad effects. They think of it as a pot that nobody can trace so it's easy for me to take this, I can get a buzz off of it and nobody's going to know." But Dr. Frank Veer with the Freeman Emergency Department says that's not the case.
"They have bad side effects. These people are taking it thinking they're going to get a marijuana type high. And they end up with anxiety and tachycardia. They end up with paranoia, they can get short term memory loss. They can get very aggressive behavior, things you don't see with the marijuana."
Dr. Veer adds that while some of that is reversible, other symptoms may last long term. "So you can have an 18 year old kid who thinks he's smoking a harmless marijuana that can actually be setting himself up to have early onset Parkinsons- like disease." And those are just the synthetic versions of marijuana. Others like illegal bath salts mimic methamphetamines and come with problems of their own. "The problems with the chemical derivatives are mainly these clandestine labs. You're getting chemicals that are similar but they have bad side effects."