Synthetic drugs to be treated as real drugs in QLD

SYNTHETIC drugs are now being treated as the real deal under Queensland law, and the state's police chief wants members of the public to dob in those who aren't getting the message.

The "New Synthetic Drugs: Real Damage" campaign, set to be unveiled this morning by Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart, aims to educate the community about the risks associated with herbs and chemicals which medical experts say not only mimic illicit drugs, but can prove more harmful.

Addiction specialist, Dr Christian Rowan has seen the impact of synthetic drugs first hand.

The president of the Australian Medical Association's Queensland branch, said yesterday there had been a notable rise is patients hospitalised and losing their lives as a result synthetic drug use.

He was also concerned young people in rural and regional areas now had better access to the "fake" drugs, due to their availability on the internet.

Like real drugs, synthetic drugs are produced with cleaners and other toxic chemicals in backyard labs.

Dr Rowan said the purity in some of the drugs produced was more harmful than some illicit drugs and could lead to heart and kidney failure, liver problems and several paranoia and anxiety.

"Using synthetic drugs is like playing Russian roulette," Dr Rowan said

"You don't really know what you are getting or what they are going to do".

On average, the Crime Stoppers reporting line receives about four synthetic drug related calls a month.

Crime Stoppers CEO Trevor O'Hara said he hoped reporting rates would go up after the community became better informed about what synthetic drugs really were.

Synthetic drug activity can be reported to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.