Archive for August, 2010

A mother’s view: Smoking K2 became fatal error for son

The following article was published in the Duluth News Tribune on August 29,2010 and with the author’s permission we are republishing it here.

Duluth, please ban the synthetic THC substance found in K2, Spice, California Dream and other marijuana-mimicking products.

On May 15, my son, Charlie Davel, smoked K2 and within hours died after leading police on a high-speed chase, turning the wrong way onto a freeway and hitting a parked tow truck. His vehicle was traveling faster than 100 mph.

This was not my son in his right mind.

He had many things going for him. He was a devout Christian and a star wrestler in high school. He was college-bound, had just bought a fishing license and so much more.

We, his friends and family, believe K2 was the major factor that caused him to act irrationally, costing him his life.

The officer investigating Charlie’s death, Detective Jay Dunston of Waukesha County, told us about K2 several days after Charlie’s death. I had never heard of it. The officer learned Charlie had used it after conducting interviews with those who had spent time with Charlie in the hours before his death.

Charlie is far from the only person victimized by this substance. In early June 2010, David Rozga of Indianola, Iowa, smoked K2 and then went home and shot himself. I have been in contact with David’s parents. I also have been in contact with the mother of a young man in Hastings, Minn., hospitalized after smoking K2. Just a few weeks ago, the state of Indiana began to announce documented injuries with K2. More recently, I read of Derek McQueen, who smoked K2 and tried to slit his throat. I am attempting to have contact with him. The son of Rick Bell and Cheryl Berg of the Eau Claire, Wis., area, smoked K2 and has been hospitalized for more than two months. Their stories are featured elsewhere on this page.

I have several friends in ER nursing. They say more and more young people are coming into the emergency room with the severe effects of K2 and similar products. Earlier this spring they had patients who came in, and the medical staff had no idea what they had taken.

When Charlie died, only two states had made these substances illegal. Today there are at least eight.

This stuff is poison! It is unregulated, and you never know how potent a batch will be.

Taxpayers will have to pay lots of unnecessary money if this substance is not made illegal. My son’s ambulance bill alone was nearly $2,000. His emergency room visit, to say he was dead, was more than $5,000. As a 19-year-old adult, he was responsible for the bill. The financial department of the hospital called and left a message for him to say so. (Gosh, don’t they talk to each other there?)

I have heard the officer who chased Charlie was assigned administrative duty for awhile as a result. That means he’s not out fighting crime. How much does that cost? I am guessing he also will receive post-traumatic counseling.

The Sheriff’s Department closed the freeway for four hours after Charlie’s crash. The Highway Department spent hours cleaning up the site. This included picking up pieces of automobile and cleaning flesh, blood and a variety of fluids. I have no idea the financial burden of the county for this. Not to mention the emotional trauma of everyone involved. If I were a highway worker, I would rather plow snow and fix roads than clean up a horrific accident scene in the middle of the night.

The state Department of Transportation must have been involved, too. It sent Charlie a letter a week after the accident to say his license was suspended. I think the letter said the suspension was because he was driving way too fast. (Gosh, doesn’t anyone communicate?)

The city of Duluth will make the right decision when it bans the sale, possession and use of this poison. We won’t know how many lives such an action will save. We won’t know how much emotional pain, agony and heartache will be prevented. We won’t know how much taxpayer money will be saved. But we do know that if this product continues to be legally available, more will die, more will hurt and more will pay.

Teens and young adults often participate in risky behavior. My son was no exception. About once or twice a year, it seemed, he did something without thinking it through. This time, it cost him his life. And every day I ask myself, “Why?”

Maybe so his story will save others.

Bonnie Davel lives in Waukesha, Wis.

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Back to School and Immunizations

August is National Immunization Awareness month.  This is the perfect time to remind family, friends and co-workers about immunizations.  Parents are enrolling their children in school, young adults are preparing to enter college and employers are planning for this year’s flu season. 

Vaccines offer safe and effective protection from many infectious diseases.  Getting immunized is a life-long life protecting community effort, everyone from infants to the elderly need to keep current on their immunizations.   Immunization is one of the most significant public health achievements in the past century.  Several diseases such as small pox and polio have been eradicated due to vaccines.  There are still cases of measles, diphtheria, rubella (chicken pox), and pertussis  (whooping cough) in the  U.S. and adults and children still die from these and other vaccine preventable diseases.

Children attending school in Texas are required to have been vaccinated for 9 communicable diseases.  Children going into daycare have to be vaccinated for a total of 12 diseases.  Young adults entering college should check with the registrar’s office to find out what immunizations are required before enrollment.  Not all colleges and universities have immunization requirements but there are recommendations for students who will be living in dormitories.  Your state’s Department of Health website will have all the information you need for immunizations.

The state of Texas grants and acknowledges the rights of a parent to exempt their children from vaccination requirements for school, daycare and college for reasons of religious beliefs or medical reasons.  In 2003 the Texas legislature passed changes that expanded reasons a parent can claim an exemption.  This process is complicated and time consuming.  If you plan to have your child exempt from vaccination requirements don’t wait until the last minute.  Check with your state’s Department of Health to obtain the official forms and instructions to complete this process.

Now is also a good time to remind any senior citizens in your life to check with their health care providers in regard to flu and pneumonia vaccine.  Children and the elderly are most at risk for communicable diseases.

Health insurances will cover immunization costs.  If you are uninsured check with your city/county health department on where you can go to get reduced cost or free vaccinations.  In Texas you can call 211Texas toll free to get this information.  You can also call the Immunization Branch Customer Service number (800) 252-9152 if you have any questions or need more information about immunizations.

Lou Ann Enis, Registered Nurse and Occupational Health Supervisor

K-2 on the Houston News

As I was getting ready for work this morning, I saw this clip on the news and thought I would share it as it directly relates to the previous blog.

http://www.khou.com/home/Doctors-concerned-over-possible-link-of-K2-heart-damage-100529464.html

How Safe is Spice or K-2?

One of my friends had surgery recently and has really had a very difficult time dealing with the pain from the surgery. Yesterday she made a comment on her Face Book page that she was going to ask her doctor for a prescription for a stronger pain medication. Someone “jokingly” recommended that she go buy some “Spice” since it is supposed to have the same effects as THC and is legal in Texas.

My heart about went to my throat! Knowing that we test for not only JWH-018 but also an entire Synthetic Cannabinoid panel and having done some reading on these substances I was hoping and praying that my friend would not follow through with that.

The reality is that no one really knows what the long term effects of using these synthetic cannabinoids have on the human body.  According to Marilyn Huestis, PhD, chief of chemistry and drug metabolism at the National Institute for Drug Abuse,  “When you take these drugs, you are hijacking the part of the brain important for many functions: temperature control, food intake, perception, memory, and problem solving, and people taking these high-potency drugs are affecting other important functions throughout their bodies — hormone functions, for example.” To see more about the possible effects go to http://tinyurl.com/ykeawnf.

The standard drug tests do not detect for these synthetic cannabinoid drugs. It requires a specialized testing process. So many people are using this as a substitute for marijuana and when going for either pre-employment or random drug tests, testing negative.

Currently JWH-018 and the other Synthetic Cannabinoid drugs are not federally controlled in the United States. However, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency it is labeled as a “Drug and chemical of Concern” in 2009. While it may not be federally controlled, several states have passed or proposed legislative action against spice and some cannabinoids.

Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, North Dakota and Tennessee it is illegal (either to have in your possession or the sale of JWH-018 and/or other synthetic cannanbinoids) in all or parts of these states. The following states have either legislation proposed or impending enaction against JWH-018 and/or other synthetic cannanbinoids: Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Texas and Utah.

ExperTox Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary!!!

ExperTox celebrated our 10th Anniversary in July!! We want to thank all of our clients for their continued support over the years. Without you, it would not have been possible.


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