(04/03/14) - The truth is, new highs come out faster than new laws against them
can make it to the books. Some legal highs are very dangerous, causing seizures,
coma and even death. Even so, you can buy them online, at gas stations or even
in some stores.
Toxicologist Richard Clark says some of the newest ways to abuse drugs are legal, "some people call these legal highs."
"Bath Salts" are synthetic drugs made in underground labs and marketed as household items. Last year, close to 1,000 people reported exposure to poison control centers.
"The patients we saw with bath salts had significantly more violence, significantly more self-harm behavior," Dr. Clark says.
Synthetic marijuana is another designer drug, made by spraying natural herbs with chemicals to mimic the effects of marijuana. It may be fake, but it is very potent and dangerous. In 2010, more than 11,000 ER visits were associated with its use.
"What we end up seeing with people with this new synthetic marijuana is violence, an occasional convulsion," Clark says.
You may use them when you're sick, but some are downing cough syrup to get high. One study found one in 10 American teens abused products made with the ingredient DXM. At high doses, the DXM can cause vomiting, impaired vision, memory loss, and even a coma.
Clark says there is another, seemingly benign, legal drug being abused, "people have Benadryl parties in lots of places in the United States."
The antihistamine can spark hallucinations in high doses. Too much could also cause seizures and death. People may think because something is legal, it is safe, but Clark says, the bottom line is pretty simple, "they could kill themselves."
Bath salts - specifically some of the ingredients used to make them - are illegal in Michigan. President Obama actually signed a federal law banning them, but experts say many manufacturers have found ways to slightly alter the chemical makeup of their products, making it hard to prosecute.
ABC12 Main Station