(WXIA) -- A Haralson County father has made it his mission to help the state crack down on designer drugs after his son's death.
Last year, 14-year-old Dakota Dyer committed suicide while using synthetic marijuana for the first time.
Now, Dakota's parents are trying to keep these drugs out of teenagers' hands by raising awareness about new information and technology to combat the synthetic drug industry.
Lance Dyer said he and his wife did not know synthetic marijuana existed until after their son's death.
"Prior to his death, we had never heard of synthetic drugs," he said. "My wife, 17 years in the medical field, had never heard of this. It had never come through their lab or their emergency room."
Douglas County Sheriff's Sgt. Jesse Hambrick said that, in a lot of ways, the manufactured drugs are more dangerous than real marijuana.
"It's just so many times more potent than regular marijuana," Hambrick said. "Instead of creating a mild psychotic effect, (users) get this major psychotic break."
He added that synthetic drugs can cause young people to do things they would never do while sober.
Synthetic marijuana is illegal in Georgia, but the industry is constantly finding ways to skirt the law.
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"They're prepared. They're waiting for us to pass the law July 1, and then, a few days later if not a couple weeks later, they have a new product already available," Hambrick said.
He stressed the need for parents to talk to their kids about the drugs.
"One of the things that we've always said is, if you say your kids would never do that, then you're setting them up for that being the one thing that they might try," he said. "So we always tell parents, never think that your kid wouldn't try whatever it is -- you fill in that blank."
This Saturday, Oct. 26 is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Georgia residents can drop off unused medications at police departments throughout the state.
Visit deadiversion.usdoj.gov to find your nearest drop-off location.
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