A Latrobe Valley man has warned of the effects of synthetic drugs after his legal high almost ended in tragedy.
Earlier this year, Glenn – not his real name – purchased a synthetic product, designed to mimic the effects of marijuana, from a Traralgon store.
Two hours later, he endured a seizure on the concrete steps of his home.
“A couple of the guys suggested to try this stuff, they said it was good fun, so my mate and I went down to (the store) and just asked for it,” Glenn said.
He purchased the ‘Buddha’ brand of synthetic drug, which is one of a range of substances labelled as ‘incense’ or ‘not for human consumption’, but sold as a legal substitute for cannabis.
Glenn said the staff member told him the substance was “pretty intense, so just don’t drive on it”.
At home, Glenn smoked what he said was a small amount of the drug and within 15 seconds, lost all control of his body.
“I couldn’t move and I can’t really remember much until about four or five hours later,” he said.
Glenn began vomiting and convulsing.
His girlfriend cradled him and rolled his body off the concrete step so his head could rest on the grass while she went inside to access a phone and call 000.
“While I was on the phone to the ambulance, I had my ear next to his mouth, because I was waiting to start CPR. I though he was going to stop breathing,” she said.
Glenn was transported to Latrobe Regional Hospital for treatment.
“The whole time I was there anxiously waiting, thinking ‘has he got permanent brain damage?’,” his girlfriend said.
Meanwhile, Glenn was going through his own mental terror.
“I wasn’t just blanked out for that whole time, it was like a full trip. The way I explain it is it was like I was in a 2D world. Nothing made sense. Like the old SEGA games. I felt like I was going to be fried forever,” he said.
Glenn made a full recovery, but remains haunted by the thought of what could have occurred had his girlfriend not been there.
“Not only could I have choked on my spew, I could have hit my head on the steps,” he said.
The pair supports a nation-wide ban on synthetic drugs, following a New South Wales government decision on Sunday to implement a 90-day ban on the sale of 18 products, after the death of Sydney teenager Henry Kwan who jumped to his death from a balcony after taking a substance that mimics LSD.
Glenn said synthetic drugs were attractive to many young people because they were accessible and legal, but their effects were potentially more dangerous than the drugs they were designed to mimic.
“It’s not worth it,” he said.
Glenn said synthetic drugs were very popular locally, and he knew at least 15 people who used them regularly.
Earlier this week, Victoria Police and Crime Prevention Minister Edward O’Donohue indicated they supported an expansion of the ban to other states.
Latrobe Acting Superintendent Mick West said there was “no doubt” synthetic drugs were dangerous.
“We don’t know what the effects are, why would we risk our health?,” Supt West said.
The store’s head office did not respond to The Express.