March is Poison Prevention month, a time to educate ourselves about poisons and harmful substances. This year, the Illinois Poison Control Center (IPC) highlighted the dramatic increase in phone calls from those affected by synthetic drugs.

Nationwide, poison control centers received 303 reports of harmful synthetic cocaine use in 2010; in 2011 that number jumped to more than 6,000. Similarly with synthetic marijuana, poison control centers saw related calls jump from 14 in 2009 to 6,800 in 2011.

Here in Illinois, out of the 100,000 phone calls that came in to the Poison Control Center, more than 1,000 were related to synthetic drugs.

Synthetic drugs are extremely dangerous because buyers don’t know what chemicals they are ingesting. Individual products can contain wide range of chemical formulations and strengths, some of which can be two to 500 times stronger than typical drugs.

For more information on synthetic drugs, please visit the Illinois Attorney General’s Web site, or visit the Illinois Poison Control’s Web site.

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