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I recently made a drug deal in Paris, Texas. It went like this “I can sell you our best stuff; it is $50 a gram. If you want I can cut it in half for you or I can even sell you an 8 ball. If you prefer, our next best is $40 a gram. It is still good, just doesn’t have the kick of the good stuff.” This isn’t what you think. I wasn’t on a corner talking to a drug dealer. In fact, I wasn’t even breaking the law. I was speaking to the girl behind the counter at Da Water Pipe. Our transaction, had I gone through with it, would have been completely legit. She wasn’t selling meth or coke by the gram; she was selling bath salts, the newest craze in designer drugs.
Designer drug is a term used to describe drugs which are created to get around existing drug laws. This is done by changing the molecular structure of an existing drug just enough to make a new substance. K2 is another designer drug that has recently soared in popularity. Bath salts are considered legal meth and K2 is considered legal marijuana. The problem with both of these drugs, besides their easy availability, are the nasty and potentially fatal side effects.
According to Bryan Mackey, a local EMT, emergency workers are “beginning to see it more often, possibly 3-4 a week, mostly bath salt, not seeing K2 as much…”. I also spoke with a registered nurse that works for Poison Control, she reports that the center she works for, which serves all of Texas, receives calls daily about K2 and bath salts. A typical caller to Poison Control complains of hallucinations, agitation (often to the point of requiring restraints), delirium, rapid heart rate and elevated body temperature. She also warned that the use of bath salts can cause kidney and liver damage, muscles to break down, seizures, and dangerously low or high blood pressure.
Bryan echoed this when he reported that “a wide variety of symptoms are usually present, most always extreme tachycardia (rapid heart rate), chest pain, paranoia, and agitation”. The nurse stated “It takes a long time to recover from the use of bath salts. Typically the person has to be admitted to the hospital. Some don’t recover.”
Both Bryan and the RN for Poison Control report that there are fewer calls for K2. Paris recently banned K2 from being sold inside the city limits, but it is still legal to have and use. It takes a long time for legislation to catch up to new trends in drug use. Something has to be done and soon. Paris hasn’t had any reported deaths due to these two substances yet, but just this week a woman in her 20’s used bath salts and is now in critical condition at Medical City in Dallas. It has been reported that she suffered a stroke, has brain damage, and paralysis on one side of her body. Bryan reports that there are other confirmed strokes due to bath salts in Paris. All of this from something that you (or your kids) can buy easily in Paris, Texas! Where do we go from here? This is not an easy question to answer. Until laws are passed to stop the sale and consumption of these designer drugs it is a good idea to talk to your children, friends, etc about the dangers of using these legal yet potentially life threatening drugs
Editor note: Since this article was written there has been one confirmed local death, another death of a local man who happened to be in Idabel when he died, two comas, and another suspected death that no autopy was performed to validate.
Ashley Womack has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s degree in counseling and is currently a doctoral student at Texas A&M University-Commerce. She is a licensed chemical dependency counselor. She has worked in community mental health for several years and is now a therapist at Insight Counseling of Paris. She will be teaching counseling classes at A&M in the fall. She is also owner/operator of www.thepaperhelper.com