- Mental Health»
St. Louis is facing a new drug epidemic and most people have no idea it is happening right in their own city.
Downtown St. Louis is no stranger to drug addicts and what comes from having large groups of drug addicts that hang out in particular areas. Whether it be the crack cocaine users, the heroin users, the potheads, the drunks, or any of the other forms of drug users that are walking around throughout the area of downtown St. Louis I am sure we all have an idea about the crime trends that follow having these type of inhabitants all around specific areas. Cars get broken into to be ransacked for anything of value, people get assaulted, people get mugged or robbed (most of the time a weapon is involved), people get harassed by beggars demanding any spare change or money, shoplifting and any other forms of theft take place, and drugs get used in plain sight just to name a very few of the things I can personally think of when I rummage through my mind as to what happens in downtown St. Louis. For the most part, most of us have attended D.A.R.E. programs in school somewhere along the way and we are somewhat knowledgeable about drug use even if we choose not to partake in that particular activity or not so when it comes to the big name popular drugs; heroin, crack, cocaine, marijuana namely, but what do we know about any of the new designer drugs that are being sold over the counter in a lot of these stores across our city? The answer is that we know very little about what drug I am referring to and even less about the effects this drug has on its users or how they act while high on this drug. This article will briefly dive into the dark underground of the use of a new drug which is readily available to people who look for it and it is becoming to take its toll on downtown St. Louis in a huge way. I am actually quite sure that after reading this article, if any of you spend much time downtown, that you will know what this article is about and if you have no idea then you will be able to pay attention from here on out.
Ok, There is a new drug appearing in downtown but what IS it?
Drug dealers and drug addicts have found a new way to make a few bucks and get high without the drug showing up in drug testing. Synthetic marijuana hit the United States full-force in 2008 and could be found in MANY smoke shops, gas stations, and various other retailers who might sell smoking accessories, etc. It is actually LEGAL in a lot of the country and only until fairly recently has it become so widespread and such a nuisance that local municipalities are seeking to ban it from being sold. I AM TALKING ABOUT K2/SPICE. The packaging itself states : NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION making it slip through a loophole in the system to be allowed to be sold in stores, The synthetic man made drug can contain literally hundreds if not thousands of different substances that effect the brain in many different ways. Largely, it is targeted to affect the cannibinoid receptors of the brain. Not one single package of it has the same chimcal properties of the last and it is IMPOSSIBLE to pinpoint exactly how much of the mind altering substance each package actually contains which is a very dangerous cocktail for the user and creates issues with giving the government ways of controlling the use of it, Being made up of leafy material looking similiar to marijuana but it is actually sprayed with the chemicals that cause the effects on the user. It is because of these facts that the FDA and government are having a near impossible shot at regulating and/or banning it completely.
How does this danger life in downtown?
A typical user can gain a high tolerance for this drug and require more of it to get high from it. I asked a few of the addicts downtown about this drug and I was told that dealers have been adding formaldehyde in it causing each joint or blunt to be rolled to be extremely potent and VERY dangerous to the user. Most of the users continue using this drug knowing the bad side effects it can cause and even when it has been laced with a totally different drug like formaldehyde (PCP). When a joint is dipped in this or prayed onto the weed itself it is referred to as being "wet" and they refer to the PCP itself as "water". The addition of a completely different drug to this already lethal potent drug doubles the addiction rate. Users will do whatever it takes to get their fix for the day. Having effects that only last a series of minutes also means that they want this drug throughout a single day. It is highly addicting according to actual users I have interview downtown. Being sold already rolled into joints or blunts a user has no idea whatsoever about what they are about to ingest into their body or what they are going to experience. The typical price for a joint ranges from $1.00 - $3.00 and a blunt is around $5.00. You can purchase it at stores for around $20.00. Not all stores in St. Louis sell this crap but they are out there and probably more than you could imagine.
Being so cheap and easy to get has made it a staple within the homeless community of downtown St. Louis. These people out here become homeless from job loss, or any other reason that they might not be able to help, then become homeless going to NEW LIFE EVANGELICAL CENTER on Locust in downtown. The shelter that is at 14th and Locust is the home to many of these users and since they are made to leave the premises at 6:30AM they can be found hanging out around CHRIST CHURCH CATHEDRAL, The CENTRAL BRANCH of The St. Louis Public Library. These people get addicted to this stuff after just trying it here and there as a release from the hardships of becoming homeless in St. Louis. Before they know it, they are worse off in life than they could have ever thought. A large majority of the city's residents view down on these people making it near impossible for these people to reach out for help with their addiction. Not everyone is a bad person who have become homeless and they should not all be grouped together as criminals or just bad people in general. I am not saying this to insult anyone but only as a self reflection of how I feel sorry for a lot of the people I have met while exploring this new crazy drug trend in downtown. A lot of these people are totally helpless. The drug itself can be blamed for a large part of the homeless peoples inability to better themselves. Once they get hooked, they are hooked. They do not care about anything much other than getting the drug.
The drug is causing numerous deaths of the homeless population which I verified with a police officer and an EMT in downtown. As I was downtown at the library interviewing a few of the drugs users an ambulance pulled up to rescue a guy who had done the drug and experienced a bad reaction, which is becoming very common, and I then interviewed the officer and the EMT. I was told that countless people have died from complications from using this drug. Numerous others have become paralyzed by becoming unconscious and passing out, hitting their head on the concrete. This stuff is REALLY dangerous. The officer said he has seen teenagers as young as 15 coming downtown on the weekend in search of the drug from someone selling it on the street corner. Some of these young kids are from west county, St. Charles, Illinois, etc and have been robbed, hurt badly, and have also fallen victim to the drug. It is a horrible trend in St. Louis and it is time something is done about it.
What are the signs of someone high on K2?
- Slow staggering movements
- People look like they are "stuck in place" standing up or sitting
- Leaning and unresponsive other than their eyes moving
- Erratic behaviors
- Speaking nonsense or gibberish
- A heightened sense of agitation
- Seeming panicked
- Just like they have no idea whats going on around them whatsoever
- Laying passed out on the ground