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Former Users Warn Of Dangers Of Legal, Synthetic Drugs

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(credit: CBS) Liz Collin
At 15 years old, Liz Collin made her broadcast debut covering...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) –It is a dangerous high, relatively new to the drug scene that can be deadly. Synthetic drugs have already cost at least two Minnesotans their lives. A state law was supposed to stop the sale of so-called bath salts but there are similar substances that are easy to buy.

The explosion has police and health professionals worried and pushing for parents to talk to their kids.

Three people at Minnesota Teen Challenge are trying to get their lives back on track after using these drugs.

“They said if I wouldn’t have gotten to the hospital my heart would have exploded. I would have died,” said Jesse who admits to using bath salts.

Heather used drug called K-2.

“My heart started pounding so hard, I thought I was going to die,” she said.

Kelly also used bath salts.

“I’m surprised I’m still alive,” she said.

They are three lives almost lost to the latest drug trend: using man-made substances with strange slang names to manipulate the system — bath salts, plant food and incense. They’re all designed to mimic the effects of illegal drugs.

Synthetic drugs slammed on the scene in the Twin Cities last spring after several panicked calls to 911 from a house party in Blaine.

“They told dispatchers they were given bad drugs, that people were freaking out and people were dying,” Blaine Police Chief Chris Olson said.

That party ended with 10 teenagers and young adults in the hospital and Trevor Robinson, 19, dead from taking 2CE.

“We were trying to figure out what we were dealing with that night,” Olson said.

Carol Falkowski is a Minnesota Drug Abuse Strategy Officer and one of 20 people across the country monitoring drug trends. She said she is extremely concerned about this trend.

“The speed that we’ve seen the explosion of bath salts is akin to the speed we saw the explosion of crack cocaine in the 1980s,” she said.

Calls for help to the state’s poison control center after taking bath salts went from six all of last year to 120, so far, this year.

A state law this summer was supposed to ban some synthetic drugs. But without a federal law, it won’t stop online sales. Police say drug makers are constantly changing formulas to say they’re safe and legal.

WCCO-TV went into one head shop and asked for bath salts.

“We don’t have any bath salts. We have herbal incense,” the store clerk said.

The herbal incense had the usual warning all synthetic drugs have on the back. It says “not for human consumption.”

It wasn’t hard for Heather to get synthetic marijuana, also called K-2.

“Just right up the street,” Heather said.

Bath salts have left Jesse with permanent brain damage.

“I struggle through the simplest stuff,” Jesse said.

Bath salts cost Kelly her marriage and her children.

“Parents need to talk to their kids,” Kelly said.

Now, they are all putting their lives back together at Teen Challenge, grateful they even got a second chance, at all.

“It could definitely kill you,” Kelly added.

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