Alamosa County Public Health Department is asking parents to be aware of synthetic chemical use by some youths in the San Luis Valley. The chemicals are commonly sold as plant food, bath salts, incense and potpourri, and are labeled "not for human consumption." However young people have been ingesting, inhaling , smoking or snorting these products to experience hallucinogenic effects.

Know the Risks

However, there are potentially more dangerous results from abusing these products. The Drug Enforcement Administration first banned the use of mephedrone, methylenedioxypyrova - lerone (MDPV) and Methylone , three chemicals used in making the products, on October 21, 20ll. They recently extended the length of the ban. The ban was put in place as an emergency action "to prevent an imminent threat to the public safety. The three chemicals are designated as Schedule I controlled substance, a status reserved for substances with a high potential for abuse. According to the DEA's bath salt Fact Sheet, the chemical affects the minds of the users by causing:

  • agitation
  • insomnia
  • irritability
  • dizziness
  • depression
  • paranoia
  • delusions
  • suicidal thoughts
  • seizures
  • panic attacks

Users also have reported impaired perceptions of reality, reduced motor control, and decreased ability to think clearly. The chemicals are central nervous system stimulants and cause rapid heart rates which can lead to heart attacks and strokes, chest pains, nosebleeds, nausea and vomiting.

Similar Harmful Drugs

Other drugs that cause similar symptoms include:

  • amphetamines,
  • cocaine,
  • Khat,
  • LSD and
  • MDMA.

The Health Department, as an example of the increase in the abuse of bath salt, reports an increase in calls to the Poison Control Center from 303 calls in 2010 to 4,137 calls in 2011. Lt. Duane Oakes of the Alamosa Police Department and Cpl. Gary Spangler of the Alamosa County Sheriff's Office agree that stores have stopped openly selling the products around Alamosa, but there are probably still places where it can be found.

How to Stop Usage

Both agencies are vigilantly working against the spread of usage in the Valley. "It's illegal now," Oakes said. "They can't sell it here any more." But that just means it can't be legally sold here anymore. Like all illegal drugs, it can probably still be found, and Valley youths are probably still using the products. The Health Department is asking parents to be especially aware that the products look innocent, with pictures that range from pretty flowers to cartoon characters. For other public health information visit the Alamosa County Public Health Department webpage.

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