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January 20, 2013

'Robbing kids of their innocence'

GREENVILLE — While the exact long-term effects of using the new synthetic drug, K2, are unknown, experts say they are harmful and potentially deadly.

“In my professional opinion, from a longitudinal standpoint, we don’t know the long-term effects,” Dr. LaVelle Hendricks, student affairs coordinator for Texas A&M University-Commerce, and an expert on the drug, said. “We don’t know how deadly it will be.”

Hendricks has presented K2 facts before the 82nd Texas Legislative session and was a speaker at the International Conference on Drugs and Addictions, held in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Although more research is needed to verify the long term effects it has on the body, recent studies has shown the drug stores itself in the fatty tissue of the body and impacts all major internal organs. And they also believe it to be linked with causing kidney and liver disease.

“I cannot overemphasize the dangers of this drug,” he said. “I am here to say it’s deadly.”

K2’s main ingredient is the chemical compound JHW-018, and is on average 20 times more potent than marijuana.

“These street chemists can change one compound in the chemical and it’s more powerful,” he said. “The potency only goes higher and higher.”

According to Hendricks, 33 percent of users are children between the ages of 12 and 15. And although it is illegal, it is being marketed to the younger crowd as a legal form of marijuana.

“They are preying on the emotions to get them on this drug,” he said. “They are robbing kids of their innocence.”

Hendricks said some of the side effects of the drug include diarhea, vomiting, paranoia and cardiac arrest. Research has shown that student-athletes are experiencing dehibilitating cramps.

According to Hendricks, one of the more dangerous side effects is causing emergency rooms to take a closer look into the drug.

“One of the side effects makes it look like they’re having a seizure,” he said. “So hospitals are having to ask if they are on the drug before they can help.”

There are three stages of drug addiction. The misuse of drugs, the abuse of drugs and drug addiction/dependency. 

Hendricks said that since the new drug is so potent and addictive, just one “hit” from the drug can lead directly into the second stage of addiction.

“Just one time can lead to abuse,” he said. “Their brain starts saying ‘I’ve gotta have this stuff again.’”

Hendricks gives lectures on K2 and other harmful substances to cities and school districts across the state.

“As a professor at A&M-Commerce, anything I can do to help make people aware about this issue I will do,” he said.

For more information, or to schedule a lecture, contact Henricks at Lavelle.Hendricks@Tamuc.edu, or by calling 903.886.5632.

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