Recovery Road: Synthetic marijuana addiction

Published: Jun. 12, 2017 at 10:02 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 13, 2017 at 10:51 AM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Synthetic marijuana sounds harmless.

It was recently legal in the United States, it came in a fun packaging so people didn't know what they were getting into.

Jeffrey Conley agrees.

"That was more dangerous than anything I've ever done"

Conley started with marijuana, turned to bath salts, moved on to meth and then synthetics.

"I smoked marijuana all my life but when I started doing that and it was legal, I used that as an excuse to just start doing more and more and more of it," Conley said.

A lot of teenagers try it and once they start, it's hard to stop.

"It's easily accessible to the young kids," said Scott Higginbotham, an addiction counselor at New Beginnings. "But now it's slowly moving into the professional arena and so people are using it like crazy."

And once you're hooked, many people are hooked for life. And doctors are having a hard time treating it because they don't know what it is.

"The desire is so strong when they get back up, they'll do anything," Higginbotham said. "They'll tear the car apart, the carpet they smoke whatever is on the floor, it's highly addictive and we're having a hard time treating it medically because we don't know what compounds are in it."

For Conley, the addiction was so strong, he watched his mother die and instead of fully being there with her, he was high.

"I held her hand in the hospital room that she and she died in the hospital room and it didn't stop me but it convicted me," Conley said. "I was a runaway train trying to find a brick wall to hit and I'm tired of wasting my life."

Conley remembers attempting suicide multiple times. He was after something he was never going to get.

"Those that survived that first high that they're constantly chasing it again," Conley said. "Every drug is the same, you're chasing that first high and you will never get it again."

It's known as mojo, synthetic, k2, spice and what it does is it freezes you.

You take a hit and you're frozen.

"Your brain has been fried so fast and it's such an intense high that you're literally locked in the moment," Conley said. "You literally watch things phase down to one little pin. And I felt as if a few times I was taking my last breath because you get locked in the moment to where you literally cannot function you can't move."

It took Conley years to find his way.

"And I think anyone can make it if they work a program of recovery," Higginbotham said. "Anyone who walks through those doors can make it."

Conley now uses his relationship with God to help other recovering addicts in Southwest Louisiana.

He encourages anyone who's thinking about trying synthetic to hear him out.

"Please don't, please don't," Conley said. "It's death, it's just death in a package, nicely wrapped up and neatly handed, it's death."

Although many forms of synthetic pot are now illegal in Louisiana, it hasn't always shown up on drug tests.

So, a lot of people were getting away with using.

Now, as it pops on tests, 30% of people in recovery are there due to synthetics.

For more information, you can go to the New Beginnings Addiction Center in Lake Charles.

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