On Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Biggs Park Mall there will be a medicine drop to commemorate National Poison Prevention Week. Last year, 55,855 pills were dropped off in the spring and fall events.
Robeson County is one of the leaders for incidents related to overdosing as reported by Southeastern Regional Medical Center. The director of Palmer Prevention has said that the entry into substance use for middle school-aged children is no longer alcohol or marijuana, but rather pain pills. You would be doing your family and relatives a favor by emptying the medicine cabinet of drugs not being used.
You may recall the woman from Oklahoma who called 911 last year and asked if it was OK to shoot an intruder. She did so. It turns out her husband had died of cancer two weeks earlier and it was suspected that the intruders were trying to get a hold of his powerful painkillers that they believed were in the house. We certainly do not need to provide any more encouragement around here for break-ins so let’s dispose of these drugs.
There have been multiple examples of acute kidney injury associated with use of synthetic cannabinoid — or synthetic marijuana. You may recall a couple of years ago, a concerted effort was made to rid the state of these products, some of which went under the names of K2 and Spice. They are sold as an incense in convenience stores and typically state not for human consumption, although that is their true function. Given the rapidity with which new synthetic cannabinoid compounds enter the marketplace and their increasing use in the past three years, outbreaks of unexpected toxicity associated with their use are likely to increase. While there are federal and state bans on these products, the compounds change just enough to make them legal. They are typically in bright wrappers that appeal to teens, young adults and first- time drug users. Why would someone use it? Simply, the expectation is that the high is more intense than marijuana, there is easy access, they are affordable and one can avoid detection by most commonly used urine drug tests. Unfortunately, they also come with some serious health issues besides kidney failure when compared with marijuana. The synthetic cannabinoid usage results in two to three times more hypertension, five times more hallucinations and a significant increase in seizures.
Some of the names of the products that have been implicated in the kidney injuries are “Mr. Happy,” “Phantom Wicked Dreams,” “Clown Loyal,” “Lava” and “Flame 2.0.” A couple of these are very appropriately named in my opinion. While they can be secured on the Internet, it does take the buyer a little work. Perhaps what is needed is for convenience store operators to have a selfless moment and decide the cash is not worth the harm and not stock them along with papers and other products that have limited legal uses. They can be part of the solution rather than part of our ongoing problem.
Bill Smith is director of the Robeson County Health Department.