POSTED: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 - 8:30pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 - 8:34pm
LAFAYETTE, LA (NBC33) — With busts on stores such as Curious Goods and Burnt, it is becoming evident that synthetic drugs are an ongoing problem. When the Lafayette Narcotics Division first caught wind of this problem years ago they had no idea how dangerous this substance could be.
"We never heard of it, you know. We were being told that this stuff was being sold in stores, and my initial reaction was 'oh, it's nothing, it's just something that's being sold over the counter and if it's being sold over the counter it can't be that harmful,'" Captain John Babin, Lafayette Sheriff's Department Narcotics Division, admitted.
But as it turns out this drug is doing a lot of damage to people.
"Oh, I've seen an individual before that was not able to function. He had to be helped on a daily basis, couldn't remember how to dress himself," says Matthew Sias, InPatient Counselor at Victory Addiction Recovery Center.
Captain Babin says the worst part about the drug is the user's carelessness.
"The people will risk using this knowing that it could cause them serious harm," says Babin.
One person admitted to us they did not know of the side effects before using the drug.
"I knew that it was over the counter. You could buy for I mean pretty low prices certain places and it gets you high."
Matthew Sias says many people use the drug because it will not show up on a drug screen.
"Drug court clients use the synthetic marijuana to beat the drug screens. You have a lot of people that work offshore that smoke sythetic marijuana," says Sias.
The Narcotics Division of the Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Department is still trying to figure out how to deal with this synthetic drug problem because it is still new and ever-changing. Once one chemical is banned, they'll turn around and develop something else to skirt around the system which makes authorities then have to re-educate themselves and do another investigation on that substance.
"It's something that takes a lot of time, a lot of effort, a lot of resources and it's something that I don't think is going to go away any time soon," says Captain Babin.
Although synthetic drugs have been banned from the state of Louisiana the problem has not gone away. What makes this drug so harmful is that people are not realizing how much of a negative effect it can have.
"This stuff is not made in a lab. It's not controlled. There's no one overseeing the use of this so it's just somebody at home throwing a bunch of chemicals together, putting it in packages, and selling it to you. So one package could be different from another and you might use this one package and nothing happen, but it just takes the one time that you know you use it and you could have an issue," says Captain Babin.
Synthetic drugs have become a major problem that law enforcement agencies must say on top of because it is something that continually changes.