(KCAU-TV Sioux City / Bria Bell)
Synthetic drugs are still an issue for Sioux City
A popular drug among teens has Sioux City law officials working to get a handle on K2.
It's not an easy task as the ingredients for the illegal synthetic drug are constantly changing, making it difficult for the government to put restrictions on it.
The constant change of ingredients that are found in synthetic marijuana, like K2, have made it harder to ban by government officials and this is frustrating according to Ed Bottei, a medical director for Iowa Poison Control in Sioux City.
"It's sort of like playing whack-a-mole with these. You get rid of one group of chemicals and another group of chemicals pops up," says Bottei.
As the federal government tries to control the usage of synthetic drugs distributed by banning K2, which is also known as "spice" and comes in various forms such as bath salts. Sioux City is still seeing it's share of drug abuse of the substances.
"They are all persistent problems, they are persistent issues that we are working on."
Bottei says his department has seen a decrease in the number of calls received about the drugs, but that's not necessarily a good thing.
"We here at the poison center aren't receiving as many calls currently as we did five years ago. When the epidemic was brand new. That doesn't mean people still aren't using the chemicals."
People are still entering medical facilities to be treated from the deadly man-made chemicals.
"We have received fairly consistent reports from emergency rooms and hospitals of people who have been getting into these various chemicals."
Similar to a game of Russian Roulette, the biggest threat is the unknown, as the government continues to work to keep up with the changing ingredients.
"The people really don't know what they're putting into their bodies so there is a great deal of danger rolling through these chemicals."
Between 2011 and 2013, 14 deaths have been reported in the state of Iowa due to synthetic drug use.