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Health Officials Warn About Dangers Of Synthetic Drugs

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Many of these legal synthetic drugs have the same side effects as illegal drugs like marijuana and cocaine. Many of these legal synthetic drugs have the same side effects as illegal drugs like marijuana and cocaine.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

Health officials are sending out more warnings about the dangers of synthetic drugs.

A student at the University of Central Oklahoma has been in the ICU for a week now after a recent overdose. Some are still legal. The ones that are not can be made legal again with a slight change of ingredients. And medical professionals across the metro say they are seeing more cases like the one in Edmond.

Many of these legal synthetic drugs have the same side effects as illegal drugs like marijuana and cocaine. Those at Oklahoma Poison Control are busy working with other centers across the country to stay ahead of the dangerous trend.

They come with names like Spice, Molly and K2. This month, the synthetic drug called "Smiles" is well-known at Oklahoma Poison Control.

"These are synthetic drugs that have been designed to kind of mimic the effects of cocaine and ecstasy," Clinical Supervisor Randy Badillo said.

And they're easy to get ahold of. Synthetic drugs are sold in convenience stores,  on the web, and even household items can be made toxic.

"That's why we're constantly trying to pay attention. Little things like molecular changes can take something illegal and make it legal," Badillo said.

They're also most popular among young adults in  high school and college.

"They feel invincible, it's not going to happen to them," Badillo says, "They run in large peer groups."

That's why health officials say parents should talk with their kids and watch for symptoms like eating habits, depression, sweating, overheating and violent behavior.

"These aggressive, agitated, irritable patients that attack strangers, and maybe even family members, in their hallucinogenic state, so yes they pose...risks to anyone around them," Badillo said.

Health professionals say the side effects of synthetic drugs are so dramatic because they actually alter the neurotransmitters in the brain. It's a growing concern because they can drastically damage the bodies and brains of the young people using them.

According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, the number of calls related to synthetic drugs have increased by more than 20 times in the past year.

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