Dangerous Highs: The Effects of K-2 Spice and Energy Drinks

By Rachel Martin

February 10, 2012 Updated Nov 11, 2013 at 10:29 AM EDT

NEW HAVEN, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – A drug expert shares the dangerous effects energy drinks and K-2 Spice have on teens and young adults at “Unity in the Community” day at New Haven High School.

It was "Unity in the Community” day at New Haven High School Thursday. School coordinators brought in a drug expert to address some alarming trends among teens—mixing alcohol and energy drinks, and using K-2 Spice to achieve greater “highs”.

Amy Simmons, “No Alcohol No Drug” (NAND) School Coordinator for the Drug and Alcohol Consortium of Allen County, says teens are consuming more and more energy drinks to “jump start” their mornings or be more “alert” for important tests. However, she says eating a healthy breakfast or simply doing 10 jumping jacks when you wake are better ways to start your morning.

“The concern is if they get used to using those caffeinated drinks to feel that energy or that ‘awake’ feeling, then they’re going to crash and drink even more of it,” Simmons said. “Then when they realize they’re getting too much caffeine and try and wean off of it, they’ll have withdrawals.”

But, the biggest issue surrounding energy drinks is the fact that teens and young adults are mixing alcohol with them. Simmons says mixing a stimulant with a depressant can cause a dangerous reaction.

“Your body’s natural defense when drinking is to pass out or fall asleep. That stops you from drinking. But, when people mix it with energy drinks they’re not getting that tired feeling and they’re drinking much more for longer periods of time. That’s when the danger of alcohol poisoning and other things come into play,” Simmons said.

What escalates the danger is that energy and alcoholic-energy drinks, like FourLoko, are served in cans two to three times the serving size of a regular soda can. Simmons says this means people are consuming increased amounts of caffeine and alcohol, which is never a good thing.

The other major trend among young adults is K-2 Spice. Teens today can get their hands on K-2-like substances that are readily available at convenience stores and dealt within high schools, even though State Lawmakers have banned it.

“Spice” is a synthetic form of marijuana that looks like potpourri or incense, and is considered "natural". It’s sprayed down with a chemical compound called, JWH-018. It’s a manufactured form of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound in marijuana that causes a “high”. Spice is said to create a bigger “high” than marijuana.

“Anything that’s illegal, you have no regulation…so the consistency isn’t there,” Simmons said. “For someone who’s trying it for the first time, it may get them to a high, but if they try it again that’s where they may come into the tremors, the seizures and the respiratory issues. That’s what lands them in the hospital.”

Other effects of K-2 include hallucinations, severe agitation, elevated heart rate and blood pressure, panic attacks, dilated pupils, pale-colored complexion, and nausea and vomiting.
K-2 Spice is currently banned in Indiana, but it can still be found on store shelves, often under different names and packaging. This is able to happen because K-2 creators, or chemists, can change molecules within the compound, and that particular compound is not illegal—yet.

“A lot of youth that we're hearing about figure it's legal, so it's not harmful, which is not the case. It's just Legislation can't keep up with the crafty drug people that are spraying it,” Simmons said.

However, Indiana lawmakers are working to pass a bill that will ban every possible compound. K-2 has been banned in the UK, Germany, Poland, South Korea, Russia and France internationally, according to the Drug & Alcohol Consortium of Allen County. Nationally, K-2 is banned in Kansas, and states like Kentucky, Illinois, Georgia, Missouri, Tennessee, and North Dakota are considering legislation.

For more information on K-2 Spice and Energy Drinks click on “Drug & Alcohol Consortium” under News Links on our homepage.




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