Is Synthetic Drug Problem Declining? TN Police, Emergency Rooms Say So


Soon after synthetic drugs came on the scene, users found themselves wild-eyed and delusional, unable to explain to emergency room doctors what they had ingested. Usually, it was something they had bought — legally — at gas stations or convenience stores, the Tennessean reports. At the urging of police, lawmakers banned the legal substances to close every possible loophole a creative chemist might use to keep making the drugs.

Synthetic versions of traditional, illicit drugs appear to be on the decline in Tennessee. Just two years ago, states were grappling with how to outlaw this new crop of designer drugs masquerading as incense, bath salts, or fertilizer but designed to be a legal high. This year, however, emergency rooms are seeing declines in synthetic-drug-related visits. Treatment centers are seeing fewer cases, and police are finding these drugs less often on the streets. “Obviously, it's worked, but we can't let our guard down,” said state Rep. Mike Sparks, who spearheaded efforts to make the selling of such drugs a felony. “I think it's destroyed families. This isn't something you play with.” Dr. John Benitez of the Tennessee Poison Center said that while emergency rooms across the state are still reporting cases of people high on synthetic drugs, the number has dropped dramatically this year.

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