Drug Addiction in Austin, Texas
Like many cities in Texas and throughout the South, Austin is an easy place to find methamphetamines. That’s because of the easy access Mexican cartels and smugglers have to the city. While meth and heroin may have the largest quantities coming across the border, there is another drug threatening the people of Austin.
What Is K2?
K2, sometimes known as Spice or synthetic marijuana, is a drug that is not as widely known but has had its own issues. While the news cycle focuses on the dangers of opioids and methamphetamines, K2 is causing hundreds, if not thousands, to drop where they’re standing.
In Austin, K2 is typically tobacco or some other kind of legal plant matter sprayed with a synthetic cannabinoid. The final product looks like marijuana but has very different effects. The chemicals used in the synthetic drug can produce a variety of negative side effects in users, sending them to the emergency room. This isn’t due to any kind of overdose, just the body’s natural reaction to K2. The appeal comes from how cheap K2 is to buy and that it won’t show up on a regular drug test.
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The K2 Epidemic in Austin
It seemed like the drug, banned in Texas since 2010, was subsiding, but April 2017 saw the worst spike of incidents in two years with 457 K2-related calls. The numbers were falling more and more, but with South by Southwest, Austin’s biggest festival, the number of cases jumped back up. When major events, like South by Southwest, are attracting international attention, it is impossible for the local law enforcement to keep tabs on everything. This over-stretched police force lends itself to the increased dealing and using of K2.
Witnesses to the effects of K2 have seen users fall into catatonic states, making them stand rigid or fall without any indication. More violent symptoms, like seizures, increased blood pressure, or heightened aggression, are also common. There is a pattern of reports of K2 use that can be seen starting in 2014. These, however, are only the cases that resulted in a call or trip to the emergency room.
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A Typical Case of K2 in Austin
Austin is facing a crisis of resource, as people who are using K2 are putting a strain on the hospitals and ERs. Users have been reported having little regard for the safety of themselves and others. Victims of the effects of K2, exiting an ER they were just treated in, have been spotted “lighting up” immediately after they suffered a bad reaction and readmitted as soon as they suffer another attack.
Addiction to K2 and Synthetic Cannabinoids
While the numbers, as compared to the amount of people addicted to meth and heroin, are relatively small, there has been a noticeable increase in the amount of people admitted to clinics for addiction to “other Synthetic Cannabinoids.” 698 people were admitted in 2016, as opposed to 457 two years earlier.
Given the relative recent outbreak of Synthetic Cannabinoid addiction, identifying symptoms of withdrawal and specialized treatments are not well established. Common symptoms of withdrawal that have been identified, however, include:
- Mood swings
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Recurring seizures
Seeking Treatment in Austin
Finding the right treatment center can often be a difficult first step in recovery, especially if you are trying to decide between a local or out-of-state center. A recovery center within the state, or even city, can be helpful and feel less extreme. You can have the benefit of still maintaining a semi-regular life, and your friends and family can take easily take part in your recovery. However, a change in environment can be a powerful tool in getting clean, especially if you are scared of the temptation. If you or a loved one are battling addiction, there is hope. Contact a treatment provider today to discuss available treatment options.