Hononegah High School confronts designer drugs - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Hononegah High School confronts designer drugs

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ROCKTON (WREX) -

Parents, you have probably warned your children about the dangers of drugs. What about substances that are technically not drugs, but still have similar effects? This warning made its way to the Hononegah School District.

We're talking about synthetic drugs. These are chemically laced substances meant to serve as an alternative to marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamines. Until recently, many were sold over the counter at convenience stores and gas stations.

While the substances are illegal now, they are constantly being changed and re-purposed, often marketed as 'incense' or 'bath salts'. All of them dangerous.

But outlawing the man made drugs is not as easy as it seems. It all comes down to science.

Deputy Attorney General Mike Hood says, "Every state struggles with this problem because of the chemical make up. And how traditional law enforcement's approach to banning a chemical and making it illegal and then going after that. The chemistry behind this can change fairly quickly and that makes that law obsolete."

The reason many kids use synthetic drugs in the first place...accessibility.

"What we have found is it was available in the community, and that was very alarming to us. Cause' obviously our kids, if they're exposed to it, they could be tempted and obviously some bad things can happen," said Billy Lewis, Assistant Principal at Hononegah High School.

Students like Sophomore Megan Magee agree the problem is there. "I do hear about it in the hallway and we actually took a survey on it last year, and I believe ...it was a lower percentage, but I believe it was somewhere in the 20s where they knew someone or had done synthetic marijuana themselves."

And so are the dangers.

"You can die from one use," said Hood. "These chemicals have not been tested on humans or animals. they're just placed on a medium and people smoke them. It's like playing Russian Roulette."

Since eliminating the source of the problem won't be easy, school representatives say alerting parents to the signs and dangers of designer drug use is the next best step to keeping kids on the right track.

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