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Experiences lead to group formation

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Two residents have started the group Activists Against Synthetic Drugs (AASD) and are using their own experiences to spread the word on a harmful drug.

Tyler Armstrong and Chris Funk's lives have both been affected by the drug commonly referred to as Spice or K2.

The drug is packaged as a type of herb or incense and sometimes contains the warning "not for human consumption."

Effective July 1, 2011, after House and Senate bills, Indiana joined the ranks of the now 39 states to ban K2 and other similar drugs.

According to Sheriff Mike Heaton, in the past, manufacturers have been able to circumvent the law by modifying the formula of the drug, but the newest bill bans everything related to synthetic drugs.

However, the drug can still be purchased online and at many gas stations, convenience stores and other markets.

The prevalence of K2 and their own experiences sparked Armstrong and Funk to start an activist group to combat the drug.

The two started AASD after Armstrong began to have health problems from the drug and still saw his friends using it.

"I called (Funk) one night, and I said we've got to do something about this because it's (seemingly) legal on the street," Armstrong said. "Everybody's buying it, and that (influenced) me to try it, and then (it was) from there to ($12,000 in hospital bills).

"So I said enough is enough I have to do something, and then I saw my friends were all (getting messed up from the effects of the drug)"

Funk said the mission of AASD is to raise awareness of the dangers of the drug and ultimately get it off the streets.

"We tried telling all of our friends who are smoking this to stop smoking this," Funk said. "But this stuff is way more addictive than any other drug that you can ever think of, so they're not listening, they just want to get their highs.

"So our mission is we're skipping that step, we're skipping all the users (and) we're going straight to the friends and families of the users to try to get them on our side to get the stuff completely off the streets, so they don't even have the option to go and buy it."

Armstrong said he knows firsthand how serious the side effects of the drug can be.

"What it felt like was a heart attack," he said. "The fact is, I used this stuff for a while and now (it has) really messed my life up," Armstrong said. "It's to the point where I walk down to the ER ... almost every two days."

He said he doesn't always admit himself when he visits the ER but goes because he is afraid he might pass out and have serious health complications from the toll the drug took on his body, even though he hasn't used the drug for two months.

Armstrong said one problem is not much is known about the drug, so many doctors don't know how to treat the side effects, and the drug effects everyone differently.

"I've been referred from the ER to my family doctor," Armstrong said. "My family doctor didn't know anything about it (and) couldn't tell me anything about it. (Then) from the family doctor, they referred me to the Hamilton Center, (1211 E. National Ave., Brazil). (But) the Hamilton Center didn't really know anything about it, so now they're referring me to a specialist that's been working with people on this stuff."

Funk said he didn't have as many physical problems when using the drug, but it still affected him negatively.

"I was way more unproductive, and not even that I was edgy," Funk said. "That's all I wanted to do was smoke all the time, and I kept getting more and more addicted to it.

"I started off smoking a couple bowls a day, to a couple grams a day, to a couple bags a day, and it got (very) expensive. I would get a $300 paycheck and it would all be gone on that first night."

The two have been working hard for the past few weeks to raise awareness in the community and surrounding areas.

"We've been passing out fliers for the past few weeks," Funk said. "We handed out like 300 or 400 of them two weeks ago, (and) we had an interview on News Channel Two.

"I'm hoping to get a hold of (The Tribune Star), (then) we're probably going to call Channel 10 (and) maybe Channel 38. We're trying to get as wide spread as we can."

Funk said they are also thinking of raising money to pay the lab fees to a company that will test what chemicals are in the drug.

According the Funk and Armstrong a major problem with the drug is it's unregulated so no one can ever be certain what's in it. They said that every bag is different and may contain more of the harmful chemicals than others, or even things like metal in some cases.

AASD said it would continue to raise awareness on the drug in an effort to get it off the streets.

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I believe this herbal incense war is a huge waste of time and tax payer's money. The herbal incense sold says on the package "Not for Human Consumption", just like spray paint and super glue. The people that use the product properly loves the varity of new incense on the market that can be dipped in oils, burned, or simply hung up for weeks of pleasant scents in your home, garage, car, or where ever. The people abusing these products are the same ones that will abuse everything else on the shelves sold. I also know that there is NO facts relating these products to any potential health concerns. These products where created by Scientist with PHDs for Aroma Therapy. If you have asthma you should already know there are fragrances out there that may flare up your asthma. There has to be common sense used with all products. I agree we should regulate it like other products abused. But, banning each product people abuse will be stripping our own rights and liberties away. The media is influencing and directly misleading people to assume that all herbal incense is considered Senthitic Drugs, which is making honest business owners look like criminals. Incense has been around for thousands of years and now it's considered an illegal drug. Can we the people still have a right to make our own decisions and commen sence choices for our selves without having everything policed for us.

-- Posted by Freedomofoppinion on Wed, Mar 28, 2012, at 2:28 PM

Well said freedom I agree to that since they took my other post down, O well lets get the word out to the kids that anything can be abused. And we need to use common sense.

-- Posted by Combat VET on Wed, Mar 28, 2012, at 3:49 PM

why is it brazil times deleted my comment? Id also like to remark to freedomofopinion your facts are incorrect.

-- Posted by rezz1 on Wed, Mar 28, 2012, at 3:51 PM

i agree with most of what he said but the facts are they're are potential health concerns.

-- Posted by rezz1 on Wed, Mar 28, 2012, at 3:53 PM

Re legalize cannabis Indiana.

-- Posted by Combat VET on Thu, Mar 29, 2012, at 8:40 AM

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