'Smiles': the new designer drug that may be killing teens

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SALT LAKE CITY — A new designer drug known as "Smiles" has made its way from Europe to the US. But don't let the name fool you. The drug is already being blamed for the death of two teens in the Midwest.

The drug is a hallucinogenic, made popular in Europe. The Utah Department of Health and police here in Utah don't know much about it yet. But there's growing concern about its use in the US. In July, the federal government made it illegal.

"I bet it's already here," said Patrick Fleming with the Salt Lake County Division of Behavioral Health Services. "I mean, this is a major crossroads and so it's already probably here. We just haven't seen it yet."

Synthetic drugs, like spice and bath salts, have made headlines as the new high. Now C2-I, which goes by the street name "smiles," appears to be the up-and-coming drug among teens and young adults. It commonly sold in powder form or as a pill.

What is 2C-I
SC-I is a psychedelic phenethylamine, one among many drugs in the "2C " family. All the drugs in the family have psychoactive effects.

They were fist synthesized in the 60s and 70s by Alexander Shulgin, a pharmacologist responsible for the invention of hundreds of drugs.

It's effects range from those of a stimulant to a hallucinogenic or psychedelic mental state.

SC-I does not occur naturally. it is illegal to posses or manufacture in the U.S.

One young man took the drug and posted his experience on YouTube.

"At the moment, I am completely and fully submerged," said the user. "If you can't tell by my eyes, in a psychedelic world known as 2C-I."

"It's got properties that are almost amphetamine-type in character," said Fleming. "They kind of make the heart race and they kind of give you a lot of energy and kind of euphoric type of thing."

But the effects have proven fatal. Elija Stai and Christian Bjerk ofGrand Forks, North Dakota died this summer and their deaths have been linked to C2-I. There have been other reports of overdoses in the Midwest.

For Fleming, it's concerning.

He says it's only a matter a time before that happens in Utah. "It's like the drug du jour. Whatever is out there in the market, people will use," he said.

Parents need to watch what's going on with their kids and notice any changes in behavior and grades. He also says if parents talk to their kids early on about drugs, the more resistant they'll be to them.

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Sandra Yi


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