Friday, December 28, 2012
James Mescher said he was reading a recent edition of The Georgetown Times when an article in the police blotter caught his attention.
It was about a 14-year-old in Murrells Inlet who was rushed to the hospital because of a reaction to the drug “spice.” The teen had collapsed beside the road and was foaming at the mouth when he was found.
Mescher said although he has never had a reaction quite as severe, for more than a year he was addicted to the same drug and it caused major problems.
The 47-year-old Rhems resident decided to come forward with his story hoping to keep others from making the same mistakes.
Many of the ingredients in spice have been ruled illegal in South Carolina but manufacturers have made slight changes to the formula to keep the product — a form of synthetic marijuana — on the market.
Mescher said until about a month ago he was making most of his spice purchases at a store in Surfside Beach.
“I am not proud to admit it. I was severely hooked on it,” he said. “It is as addictive as any drug I have ever seen and as bad — if not worse — than bath salts, crack, heroin. You name it.”
Mescher, who still has a long way to go before he can say he is over the addiction, said at the peak of his problem he had to smoke the drug every 15-30 minutes.
“I would stay up 24/7 doing it,” he said. He was spending as much as $400 a week on the addiction. “I personally know of three people who have died from it and another person with staples in the back of his head from brain surgery.”
Mescher said while he never required surgery, he could barely talk or think. A recent CT scan showed he does have brain damage.
When the drug began impacting Mescher’s job performance, he knew he had to make a change.
“Through sheer will power, I finally quit,” he said.
The withdrawals have been hard, he said. In the weeks after his last hit, Mescher lost his appetite and could not sleep. He said he had only “spoonfuls” of food at Thanksgiving.
“I was losing two pounds a day. It was the worst time of my life,” he said.
Mescher said he plans to use his story to try to convince lawmakers to do more to try to completely ban the drug in South Carolina.
“We the public must find a way to outlaw spice for good before any more children die from this junk,” he said. “I am writing state officials but one person cannot do anything, I guess. So you, the public, must please assist me ... to help outlaw spice for good.”
Authorities say the laws banning the ingredients in spice are a step or two behind the manufacturers. Although the laws continue to ban many of the ingredients, the makers exchange the outlawed substances for something different and continue to sell the drug, especially online.
In May, state lawmakers passed legislation banning hundreds of chemical compounds, commonly used to make designer drugs, as controlled substances.
But, Mescher said, because of the tweaks made by manufacturers in order to bypass the laws, the drug is still found in many stores, especially in Horry County.
By Scott Harper
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