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Report: 1 in 10 Arizona teens has tried spice/bath salts

PHOENIX — A new report from the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission reveals that 1 in every 10 Arizona teenagers has tried synthetic drugs.

Alcohol remains the No. 1 substance used by the largest percentage of Arizona youth 12-17 years old, according to the 2012 Arizona Youth Survey. Slightly more than half of all teens responded they have consumed alcohol in their lifetime.

Ecstasy is on the radar as 6 percent of youth report lifetime use but it is bath salts and spice that are growing concerns.

Valley emergency rooms are dealing with the effects more often.

Dr. Steven Stapczynski with the Maricopa Medical Center Emergency Department said he’s concerned, as should parents, about teens using spice, k2 and other synthetic drugs. No one knows what the long-term damage will be.

“The chemicals vary so you don’t know what you’re getting,” Stapczynski said.

Even though Arizona has banned synthetic drugs, teens are still getting them at some Valley shops and online. It’s not difficult because spice makers change the recipe just enough to get around the ban.

With the Christmas break just ahead, kids will have a lot of free time on their hands and that could mean more ER visits.

“I hope not but with anything if people have time and money they will find something to do,” Stapczynski said.

There’s one bright spot in the report. Prescription pain medication abuse fell from 17.6 percent to 13.8 percent for those reporting lifetime use and down from 8.1 percent to 6.2 percent for usage in the past 30 days.