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Synthetic cannabinoids posing new emergency room challenges

Synthetic cannabinoids posing new emergency room challenges (WICS)

Synthetic cannabinoids making their way around the state are posing new challenges for emergency room doctors.

"We see a lot of acute psychosis, a lot of psychiatric issues from the K-2, a lot of agitation and physical problems or traumatic problems that occur from that,” said Dr. Michelle Alepra with HSHS St. John’s Hospital. “Also, things like renal failure, kidney failure, and this with the bleeding are the biggest issues."

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced Monday that there have been 107 cases of people with severe bleeding after using synthetic marijuana.

Addiction counselors say you need to look out for certain signs to know when it's time to call 9-1-1.

"If they're expressing if they want to hurt or kill themselves, if they're seeing things that aren't there, responding to things that aren't there. If they are having repertory problems,” Rebound clinical counselor Laura Butts said.

Once they get to the hospital, doctors can't always promise good news.

"With a lot of the problems with psychiatric or with the psychosis, no,” Dr. Alepra said. “With the bleeding, obviously we want to get them admitted, get them on fluids, get them monitored to see if there's anything we can do to help reverse the bleeding."

Amid the dozens of hospitalizations and now three deaths from synthetics, addiction counselors say recovery from using synthetics is possible.

"You want to let them know that they're cared for, you want to let them know they're not alone,” Butts said. “Substance use is always a symptom of something deeper is going on.”

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