A Mandeville teenager was in the intensive care unit Friday, after overdosing on synthetic marijuana. Now his father is speaking out about a problem that has affected his family more than once.
"I got a phone call from my ex wife," said the father, who asked that his name not be used. "Ambulance picked him up, he aspirated. When he woke up this morning, he was having serious convulsions, things that no parent would ever want to see from his child."
The state of Louisiana has banned eight chemical compounds often used to make the drug, but manufacturers continue cooking up new and dangerous variations.
"As soon as something is banned, the chemical is altered and a new drug on the market," said Lindsey Prevost with the Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse.
It's not the first time the father of the teen in intensive care has dealt with this pain.
"I've had the same issue with my two older two sons,” he said. “They want to experiment."
Some users think that since they often buy it over the counter, the drugs are safe.
"Teens think because it's packaged, it can't be dangerous," said St Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain.
And some believe the substances won't show up in drug tests.
"What we find now is people who have jobs and don't want to be detected turn to an alternative,” Strain said. “This is not an alternative, it's deadly."
"You might as well put a label on it and call it rat poison because that's the chance your taking," said the father.
It's not known which compound his son smoked, but last year more that 100 people OD'd on Mojo variations in Louisiana.
"Nationwide, it's rising,” Prevost said. “Parents need to talk to their kids about it."
The father said he did all he could.
"The son in the hospital right now,” he said. “He was the president of his class."
The father has advice for other parents.
"Don't be their friend,” he said. “Ask the questions and do bold things. If people care about their youth, and you stay at home and don't speak out, you will end up in the hospital like me and dealing with what I'm dealing with."
The Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse is urging employers to revise drug tests to try and detect more of the chemicals used in Mojo. The state Alcohol and Tobacco Control Board says it continues to crack down and believes it's making strides, but clearly the problem hasn't gone away.