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posted: 7/31/2011 5:00 AM

Heed warning on synthetic drugs

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The recent editorial "Know when legal doesn't mean safe" and the front page article on the young man who smoked synthetic THC, crashing his car and killing himself, should serve as a wake up call to our community. The use of these "synthetic marijuana substitutes" is becoming increasingly common in Illinois.

We have seen more and more cases in our emergency department this summer. Patients get very paranoid and occasionally psychotic using these easily obtained products. These substances marketed as "bath salts or plant nutrients" are meant to be abused as alternative highs.

There is no quality control with these commonly sold products. They are often 10 to 100 times more potent than marijuana. The medical side effects as, your excellent article and editorial documented, can be quite severe -- heart pounding, headache, paranoia and even an acute psychotic state.

Thanks for putting it on the front page -- parental knowledge is key to prevention. Parents and young people need to heed your warning.

Charles Nozicka

Advocate Condell Medical Center