Synthetic Marijuana Prompts Seizure, Hospital Visit for 13-Year Old Girl—Suncoast Rehab Center Says Youth Drug Education and Prevention Critical

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A teenage girl was recently rushed to the hospital after using K2, a type of synthetic marijuana. Suncoast, which has previously called for action with regard to teen drug use, now says that youth drug prevention should be mandatory throughout the nation, rather than just encouraged.

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Unfortunately, many young adults fail to comprehend the risks of substances such as K2, so the responsibility of educating them falls upon parents and healthcare professionals.

The legalization of recreational marijuana has recently spawned heated debates about the drug’s possible influence on increased drug use among teens. While some say that legalization has no bearing on teen marijuana use, according to Suncoast Rehabilitation Center, teens are undoubtedly using marijuana and other related substances, such as synthetic marijuana—a statement proven true by recent reports of a teenage girl overdosing on synthetic marijuana and suffering a seizure as a result. Suncoast says that the legalization of recreational marijuana has created a society in which drug use is viewed nonchalantly by young adults—a trend which the facility says evidences the need for youth drug education and prevention.

Several news outlets recently reported the case of a 13-year old girl who needed immediate medical attention after smoking K2, a form of synthetic marijuana comprised of a blend of herbs, spices, and cannabis-like chemicals. A family member found the teen having convulsions outside of her apartment after overdosing on the substance, and she was taken to the emergency room for treatment. (1) While the girl was soon released after treatment, Suncoast Executive Director Tammy Strickling says that the incident is indicative of the urgency for a nationwide strategy designed to educate children and teens on the dangers of drug use, and prevent situations that could lead to life-threatening situations for young adults.

“Early drug use has been proven to increase a person’s chances of more serious substance abuse and addiction later in life—but early education and prevention of the use of drugs or alcohol would likely be influential in reducing the risk of teens progressing to abuse and addiction,” said Strickling. “Unfortunately, many young adults fail to comprehend the risks of substances such as K2, so the responsibility of educating them falls upon parents and healthcare professionals.”

Studies show that side effects of K2 can include agitation, threatening behavior, and even hallucinations—but doctors say the drug is much more dangerous for teens, and can potentially cause heart attacks. (2) In 2011, three 16-year-olds experienced heart attacks after smoking K2—and while there was no definitive proof that K2 was the cause, doctors suggested that the drug might have caused temporary spasms in the coronary arteries, which in turn, “might have cut off the heart’s blood supply long enough to kill part of the muscle.” (3)

Strickling maintains that synthetic marijuana’s widespread availability and use among teens—more than 10 percent of high school seniors admitted to using the substance (4)—can potentially lead to more risky behavior or even lethal consequences. The key to reducing the likelihood of death or overdose due to synthetic or traditional marijuana use is by limiting, rather than increasing, access to drugs such as marijuana and its synthetic imitations. Furthermore, public education on the potential dangers of drug abuse is critical, per Strickling.

For parents and educators looking to open a two-way dialogue with teens about drugs and alcohol, Strickling suggests the following:

● Maintain open communication avenues. Be available to listen to teens, and provide an outlet for those who wish to discuss drug and alcohol use.

● Become knowledgeable. Every substance goes by several different street names. Staying abreast of the correct terms lends more credibility when discussing drugs with teens.

● Set strict expectations. Teens are notorious for pushing the limits. Make sure children and students know and fully understand the consequences if rules are broken with regard to drug and/or alcohol use.

Suncoast enables its clients to take the first step in conquering addiction and reclaiming their lives from drugs. Suncoast’s medical team designs treatment programs to physically address the malnutrition created by substance abuse, and the Suncoast counseling team tailors client therapy to help provide insight into the past—all intended to help addicts confront life better, and without reverting to drugs. Ninety percent of Suncoast’s clients began their drug use with marijuana before graduating to harder narcotics—a statistic which led the facility to join the Florida Sheriffs Association in order to educate Floridians about the dangerous consequences of marijuana legalization.

To learn more about the Suncoast Rehabilitation Center and its rehabilitation programs, call 1-800-511-9403 or visit

About Suncoast Rehab Center:

Located in Spring Hill, Florida, Suncoast Rehab Center provides long-term residential treatment, intensive sauna detoxification, life skills, and cognitive therapy and counseling. Suncoast is licensed by the Florida Department of Children and Families, and was recently awarded a 100% inspection score for the fourth year in a row. Suncoast has a mission to educate youth and adults about drugs and their dangers, with the aim of preventing future drug use and abuse. Suncoast handles the physical deficiencies, weakness, and problems created through drug use, without the use of additional drugs. Clients are helped to uncover the issues that led to their drug use through counseling, therapy, and life skills that put the clients back in control of their lives and their future. Suncoast’s purpose in drug rehabilitation is to heal the whole person and give the person tools and education to remain drug–free. For more information, visit

1.    “Girl Overdoses On K2: Texas Teen Overdoses On K2, A ‘Synthetic Marijuana’.” The Inquisitr News. N.p., 9 June 2014. Web. 16 June 2014.

2.    “Teen Overdoses on K2, Ends up in Hospital.” N.p., 9 June 2014. Web. 16 June 2014.

3.    Joelving, Frederik. “Texas Teens Had Heart Attacks after Smoking K2.” Reuters. Thomson Reuters, 7 Nov. 2011. Web. 16 June 2014.

4.    Sohn, Emily. “Why Is Synthetic Marijuana So Toxic?” N.p., 7 Oct. 2013. Web. 16 June 2014.

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Karla Jo Helms
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