Former Spice User Speaks Out Against the Sale of Synthetic Drugs

Though the drugs were purchased legally, a young man says he is still plagued by hallucinations and paranoia three months after he stopped using them.

He saw demons everywhere he went. Paranoid, he stayed up all night, watching and waiting. Eventually, he lost everything he had, now he wants others to know just what those drugs on the convenience store shelf can do.

The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office recently teamed up with community leaders and activists to help spread the word about the dangers of synthetic drugs such as Spice and bath salts, which are made up of a combination of toxic chemical and often sold at convenience stores. 

Despite a state bill passed that banned certain chemicals, the manufacturers of the drugs continue to change the chemical makeup of the products to skirt the law, Sheriff Chris Nocco said during a ceremony Friday to unveil a new program that identifies stores that do not sell the products.

Though the purchase of these products may be legal, the effects can be devastating.

David, whose life was turned upside down by the use of synthetic drugs he purchased from convenience stores, attended Friday’s ceremony to share his story.

David, who declined to share his last name, first started taking Spice in 2010. He was 20 years old, and experimenting with other drugs at the time as well, he said.

The main reason he started taking synthetic drugs was because they were legal. He could purchase them from a convenience store, so he figured “it couldn’t be that bad,” he said.

The drugs had more of an effect on him than any other drug he’d taken, he said.

“I became extremely addicted,” David said.

He would wake in the middle of the night to do more Spice.

“I had to have it,” he said.

One night he experienced a psychotic episode. A friend came outside to find David beating a wall with a baseball bat. But in David’s mind, he was beating a person with that bat.  When he caught sight of the friend, he saw him with red eyes and demon-like, he said.

David threw the bat at that friend’s feet and begged him to beat him to death. He never wanted to feel that way again, or do Spice again.

But the addiction was stronger than he was at the time.  Soon after, he smoked the drug again, and experienced hallucinations and sensations of paralysis, he said.

“I started hearing and seeing demons,” David said. “ I couldn’t sleep at night.”

Always awake, always watching for the demons the drug-induced paranoia brought on, David continued to do drugs, until one night he got into a heated argument with another man while under the influence of Spice, and that man pulled a gun on him.

“I knew staring down the barrel of that gun I had to quit or die,” David said.

David moved in with his parents in March and has been clean since, he said. But because of this drug—which he purchased legally from convenience stores—he lost his job, his home and his pets.

And though he hasn’t smoked since March, he is still experiencing hallucinations, paranoia and insomnia.

David now speaks to groups about his experiences to promote awareness about the dangers of these drugs.

“I don’t want to see any kids going through this, becoming the person that I became,” he said.


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