Abused drugs - they have a "new face" were Linda Kalin's words for some 75 local residents of all ages at South Tama High School last Wednesday night.
She's director of the Iowa Statewide Poison Control Center. Kalin's office sees them all. Or does it?
Her message was medical and law enforcement officials can't keep up with the "very new problem for our century which began in 2010."
Tama Police Chief Dan Wilkens (left), aTama County deputy who is a member od the Mid-Iowa Drug Task Force (face has been intentionally blocked) and Linda Kalin, director of the Iowa Statewide Poison Control Center, warned of the dangers of illegal drugs in area communities during a presentation sponsored by S.K.I.P. at South Tama?High School on Wednesday night, May 8.
Synthetic drugs, many manufactured overseas and obtained over the internet or, in some cases, "head shops," are a "huge challenge" Kalin said. The Poison Control Center fields calls daily from hospital emergency rooms treating patients with overdoses of drugs they cannot identify.
Kalin was joined Wednesday night by Tama Police Chief Dan Wilkens and a Tama County Deputy Sheriff and Mid-Iowa Drug Task Force member in urging the audience to not only be aware, but spread the word to be on the look out for signs of new drugs. Parents were cautioned to watch for changes in behavior among their children. And everyone should be alert for signs of drug abuse.
These new substances are "man-made, not grown" Kalin said.
She explained the new synthetics and some of the issues they create for law enforcement and the medical community as:
often being labeled "not for human consumption" providing an avenue for sales because the dealer can hide behind this.
being slightly chemically altered if outlawed and again being outside the scope of the law.
able to be developed in incalculable numbers of different forms enabling the drugs to not be detected or recognized.
being found for sale on the internet from China, South American and other locales.
Kalin said the dangers of the use of the new drugs coupled with traditional ones and abuse of prescription medication all add up to "a new day" in illicit drug usage and its prevention and cure.
Both Wikens and the deputy said they witness drug abuse which runs in age levels from young to people in their 50s.
Wilkens said Tama police took a 5th grader into custody in a drug case.
The deputy said methamphetamine is now the biggest problem encountered in Task Force investigations followed by high-grade marijuana.
Wilkens presented evidence of "Whippits" which are small metal cylinders filled with nitrous oxide. Used for as a propellant in commercial cake baking decorating devices, the gas is one of a number of inhalants used for a "high."
Wikens displayed a five gallon bucket filled with "Whippits" which had recently been disposed of and recovered by his department.
Other common household products also are sources for inhalant abuse with the goal of "getting high" Kalin said.