Presentations to highlight the dangers of synthetic drugs
A series of free drug awareness presentations presented by the Northwoods Coalition will focus on synthetic drugs and other emerging drugs being abused in northern Wisconsin.
Bryan Kastelic, a special agent with the Wisconsin Department of Justice, will discuss synthetic drugs during presentations planned for late September and early October in seven Northwoods counties.
“These presentations will be especially significant for all area health care professionals, law enforcement, EMS, school teachers, guidance counselors and concerned parents,” said Bob Kovar, a Marshfield Clinic Center for Community Outreach health educator, who helps to facilitate the work of the Northwoods Coalition.
The Northwoods Coalition, a network of community coalitions across 40 counties and 11 tribal nations, wants people to attend, participate and become part of the solution.
Presentations are scheduled in Forest, Iron, Vilas, Oneida, Bayfield, Ashland, Price and Sawyer counties, and include sessions designed for professionals, law enforcement, health care providers and students.
Presentations in this area that are open to the general public include:
• Iron County – Sept. 25. Mercer School, 2690 West Margaret St., Mercer, 11 a.m. to noon; and Hurley High School, 5503 W. Range View Drive, Hurley, 6 p.m.
• Vilas/Oneida counties – Sept. 26. Lakeland Union High School, 9573 Hwy. 70 West, Minocqua, 6:30 to 8 p.m.
Products being marketed as bath salts and potpourri are synthetic substitutes that mimic the effects of amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy and other illegal drugs. Despite being labeled as “not for human consumption,” these synthetic substances are being used as recreational drugs, Kovar said.
Synthetic cannabinoids, also known as synthetic marijuana, K2 and Spice, are psychoactive substances chemically similar to the active ingredient in marijuana. These synthetic drugs are applied to plant material and smoked.
Kovar said these products are attractive particularly to children and young adults because the products are available at some convenience stores at minimal cost and often are packaged with cartoon characters. These substances often are more potent and dangerous than their illegal counterparts, and have very serious side effects.
From March to December, 2012, acute kidney injury following exposure to synthetic drugs was identified in six states, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Other dangers associated with these drugs will be highlighted during the presentations.
“The hope is that the ultimate outcome will be local communities developing and adopting ordinances to ban synthetic drugs,” Kovar said.
For more information, contact Bob Kovar, health educator, Marshfield Clinic Center for Community Outreach, at 800-782-8581, ext. 2-7308, 715-614-8831; or email [email protected]