Synthetic marijuana has unfortunately become increasingly popular with preteens, teens and other age groups across the United States. What makes this so concerning is the fact that it has the potential to cause permanent brain damage, severe kidney damage and in some cases even death.
We previously reported that the Drug Enforcement Agency had recently employed a nationwide sting operation targeting the manufacturers of synthetic drugs such as fake marijuana and bath salts, but will their efforts be enough to save individuals from harming themselves with the substances in question? Regrettably, they probably won't.
"I had a normal child on a Thursday and a not normal child on a Friday," proclaims Robin Smith of Forest Hill, Md. Robin tells the story of when her son Kyle, who was just 15 years old at the time, decided to use synthetic marijuana. "My son came home from school, smoked K2 (synthetic marijuana), and took a loaded gun into the woods."
Now 18 years old, Kyle has been institutionalized seventeen times for psychiatric care and has made three different attempts to take his own life. He is presently an outpatient at Johns Hopkins University Medical Center where he recently endured electroconvulsive therapy (shock treatments) in an attempt to rehabilitate from his experience with imitation pot. That's right, puffin' that toxic stuff can cause permanent brain damage, and although Kyle's story is tragic, it's far from being an isolated occurrence.
On Dec. 7, 2012, 16-year-old Emily Bauer of Cyprus, Texas, complained of a migraine and decided to take a nap after allegedly smoking synthetic marijuana with her friends. Emily supposedly woke up from her slumber an entire different person in respect to her everyday personality and demeanor.
Stumbling and slurring her words, she reportedly transmuted into a psychotic state of hallucinations and violent outbursts causing her family great distress. Her stepfather summoned the paramedics via 911.
Once the ambulance arrived, paramedics were forced to restrain Emily after which they rushed her to a Houston-area hospital, where she was admitted to the intensive care unit.
While admitted to the hospital, Emily bit guard rails and made attempts to bite anyone that came near her. The hospital staff was reportedly forced to strap her to the bed to insure both Emily's and their own safety.
"We thought once she comes down off the drug, we'd take her home and show her the dangers of this drug," Emily's sister avowed. "We didn't think it was as big of a deal until 24 hours later she was still violent and hurting herself. We realized you're not supposed to stay high this long."
To further insure Emily's personal safety, the doctors assigned to her case made the decision to place her in an induced coma. After days in the sedated state, an MRI revealed she had suffered several severe strokes.
"In four days' time, we went from thinking everything is going to be OK and we'll put her in drug rehabilitation to now you don't know if she's going to make it," her stepfather declared.
She was moved to Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital after the doctors informed her family that they had exhausted all possibilities and there wasn't anything else that they could do to help her.
Up until Dec. 13, Emily had been in the aforementioned induced coma and her only movements were that of involuntary reflexes. The doctors in the intensive care unit reported that her were blood vessels were beginning to open, which would normally be good news, but in Emily's case it was proving to be just the opposite.
The opening blood vessels were allowing too much blood to reach her brain, causing the pressure around her brain to reach astronomically unsafe levels which necessitated emergency surgery to relieve said pressure in order to save her life.
Emily thankfully pulled through the emergency procedure, but the next day her family learned the extent of the damage that had been done to her brain.
"We met with Neurology team who showed us Emily's brain images," her mother, Tonya Bauer affirmed. "They told us that all white areas on images were dead. It looked to us at least 70 percent of the images were white."
After doctors successfully painted a very depressing picture of what Emily's future would look like, her family made the difficult decision to take her off life support just four days before her seventeenth birthday.
Even though she wasn't expected to live without artificial assistance, Emily's family was happily surprised that she was still alive four days later to mark her birthday.
"Even though she couldn't move, is blind, and could hardly be aware of what was going on around her, she laughed with us as we made jokes and listened to her soft whisper replies," her mother declared.
Thirty days after Emily's life changing experience, she was transferred to TIRR Memorial Hermann rehab hospital where she continues to rehabilitate to this day.
Emily's family started a nonprofit organization titled Synthetic Awareness For Emily with the intention of raising the necessary awareness of the impending dangers from consuming synthetic marijuana and drugs of the like.
On Feb. 15, 2013, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention released an alert that described sixteen different cases of kidney damage from six different states; the patients were reportedly hospitalized for unexplained acute kidney injury (AKI), all of whom testified to have recently consumed synthetic marijuana.
I have personally spoken to younger friends of mine that claim they themselves experimented with fake weed just because they were unable to access the real deal or they felt compelled to use the substance in order to avoid testing positive on an employer drug screening.
Out of all three of the people I spoke with about their usage of the synthetic cannabinoid sprayed lawn clippings, none of them reported having a pleasant experience, and they said it was certainly nothing like using real marijuana, and they would never try it again.
So, is using this man-made nastiness worth spinning the roulette wheel of life and possibly perishing over? I would have to answer that with an unquestionable "hell no!" Help raise our nation's awareness regarding these synthetic nightmare drugs by becoming actively involved and be the change!