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Swimming in the deep end: Synthetic drugs in Florida

Posted on 01-25-2016 Posted in Drug Abuse - 0 Comments

The gator that is synthetic drugs swims just beneath the surface, waiting to strike and drag its prey down to the depths of addiction. Unsuspecting Floridians, dip their toes in, test the murky waters of experimentation unsure what lies beneath — only to end up addicted, arrested or dead. Once is all it takes.

Now, like an airboat riding to rescue atop the swamp waters, a new legal act is in the works that would prevent synthetic drug manufacture and distribution.

The reports tell all

Synthetic drugs continue to wreak havoc among the population of Florida, as new variations of synthetic substances are developed as fast as a virus spreads. The National Institute on Drug Abuse, or NIDA, explains that synthetic cathinones are a man-made drug normally referred to as bath salts. Side effects can include hallucinations, paranoia, panic attacks, delirium, nosebleeds and even kidney failure. Despite the side effects, people in Florida continue to abuse these harmful substances.

Crime reports involving drug use flood Florida crime labs, as the Palm Beach County Substance Awareness Coalition reports a 46 percent increase of synthetic cathinone use – amounting to almost 2,000 cases.

The coalition also tallied 228 crime lab cases in 2014 relating to the use of synthetic cannabinoid marijuana, “in the three Southeast Florida counties, representing a 57-percent increase over the previous year,” according its report. While treatment for people abusing these substances exists, many do not receive it and continue to abuse these substances for a cheap high — poking an alligator with a stick, so to speak.

A synthetic drug known as flakka has been creating serious problems on the streets throughout Florida, costing a mere $5 and easy to find in the black market. In the Grand Jury Report from the Broward state attorney’s office, State Attorney Michael J. Satz, highlights, “There were 61 flakka-related deaths in Broward County over the 15 months from September 2014 to mid-December 2015.”

In an effort to take a formidable stand against synthetic drugs, Attorney General Pam Bondi presents the 2016 Florida Designer Drug Enforcement Act as a possible solution.

Taking a real step against synthetic drug abuse

Similar to cutting off the head of the hydra and having three more grow in its place, synthetic drugs continue to resurface despite being made illegal. When one form of synthetic drug is banned, black market chemists only need to tweak the chemical compounds slightly to create a new substance.

If passed, the 2016 Florida Designer Drug and Enforcement Act will prevent this from being an option. Bondi gave a briefing on January 15, clarifying this act, “Will categorically outlaw synthetic drugs,” instead of having to first identify individual chemical compounds.

There have been continuous issues, due to rapid alterations and redistribution of synthetic substances to circumvent illegality. Satz explains further, “The criminal penalties relating to the possession, sale, manufactory and delivery of controlled substances will apply to these synthetic substances.”

Death may not be the immediate result of substance abuse, but just as an alligator only clamps down harder as its prey struggles to get free, substance abuse will not let a person go easily. For people who abuse harmful substances and need treatment, it is important to seek help before it is too late.

The Sovereign Health Group has two facilities in Pompano Beach and Fort Myers Florida, offering personalized treatment with mental health, addiction and dual diagnosis issues. Patients will receive treatment for all co-occurring issues and obtain the skills necessary to continue a healthy life after treatment. To learn more about our programs please contact us through our 24/7 helpline.

Written by Nick Adams, Sovereign Health Group writer

For more information and other inquiries about this article, contact the author at

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