The DeKalb County Partnerships for a Safe, Active, and Family Environment (DCP/SAFE) wants to educate the public about the dangers of increasingly popular synthetic drugs such as “bath salts,” which recently have made national headlines.
In 2011, poison control centers reported a 20-fold increase in bath salt use, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, the partnership said in a news release.
These “bath salts” are not to be confused with traditional bath salts. Synthetic drugs are produced in unregulated laboratories and work by stimulating the nervous system in a way similar to cocaine and methamphetamine. The drugs can cause chest pain, high blood pressure, increased heart rate, agitation, paranoia, hallucinations and delusions. In rare cases, using these drugs can lead to extremely violent behavior.
Gary Dumdie, DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office chief deputy, said the office began a joint operation in April targeting sales of synthetic drugs. The operation is part of a statewide initiative spearheaded by the attorney general’s office.
Dumdie said the local operation netted 1,941 packets of illegal drugs with a street value of $30,266 from two retailers in DeKalb. The retailers, Roxxi’s on South Second Street and Shadowlands on West Hillcrest Drive, voluntarily relinquished the drugs. Three more tobacco shops were visited the same day, and their owners signed affidavits agreeing not to sell synthetic drug products, Dumdie said.
“I hope this action sends a strong message that our community will not tolerate the sale of these harmful substances,” said Lt. Gary Spangler of the DeKalb Police Department.
For years, synthetic drug manufacturers have circumvented state law by modifying the drugs’ formulations slightly to avoid violating existing laws. A new law went into effect in Illinois on Jan. 1 that bans structural derivatives of the previously banned chemicals.
There have not been any local deaths reported as a result of synthetic drugs.
“We haven’t had any deaths from it, but I heard that in Aurora there was a death from synthetic drugs,” Dumdie said. “But there have been cases of people being treated for them at [Kishwaukee Community Hospital].”