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Department of Behavioral Health Announces Public Awareness Campaign to Prevent Use of Synthetic Drugs

Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Campaign about harmful effects targets adults; stresses prevention and treatment

Media Contact:  Phyllis Jones
 (202) 673-1937 desk   (202) 631-3077 mobile
Bruce Points  (202) 727-5577 desk

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – The District of Columbia Department of Behavioral Health (DBH) today announced the launch of a public awareness campaign to educate residents 18 years of age and older about the harmful health and physical effects of synthetic drugs.  The campaign also provides information about preventing the use of synthetic drugs and where to go for treatment.

Synthetic drugs—known by various names including K2, Flakka, Molly —are extremely dangerous and are known to cause increased heart rate and blood pressure, chest pains, black outs, seizures and even death.  Use also is associated with anxiety, extreme paranoia, hallucinations, delusions, and violent behavior.  

“We know the immediate harmful effects of synthetic drugs, but what’s even more troubling is that we don’t yet know the long-term impact on one’s mental and physical health,” said Dr. Tanya A. Royster, Director of the Department of Behavioral Health. “Staying away from  synthetic drugs is the only way to be safe.”

The District has passed laws to make it illegal to possess and sell synthetic drugs and to shut down convenience stores that sell them.  Yet, last summer, the District saw an increase in health emergencies due to the reported use of synthetic drugs by adults, in particular near homeless shelters. The DBH Mobile Assessment and Referral Center (MARC) van and recovery teams will circulate campaign materials in neighborhood corridors and in areas where people gather.  The campaign also will be visible with advertisements on Metro buses, online, and on popular radio stations.

Materials can be downloaded at  You can also get information through Facebook and Twitter using the handle @K2ZombieDC.

For more information or to be linked to mental health or addiction services, you can call the Access Helpline at 1-888-7WE-HELP (1-888-793-4357) any time, day or night.


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Department of Behavioral Health Facebook and Twitter: @MindandBodyDC