Virginia, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Duluth is not the only community with a synthetic drug problem.
On the Iron Range, Virginia police say the number of users has seen a rapid increase within the last year with a corresponding escalation in medical and behavioral issues.
For some of the users of these drugs fighting this damaging habit has become a daily struggle.
"I used to be a happy, outgoing person all the time and full of energy and things like that. Now–a–days I don't have much to say to anybody," Greg Hovet, Jr., a recovering addict, said.
Synthetic drug use in Virginia is on the rise.
"It's so easy to get it. And that's the hard part, you know?," Shelby Nordstrom, a recovering addict, said.
Police say they're responding to multiple calls every day involving synthetic drugs.
And it's getting worse.
"It's a lot more effective than regular marijuana. You get a lot more high I guess you can say," Nordstrom said.
"I would get the high that I would off of marijuana. Not the same exact, but it was the body high—the simple...chill high you know," Nordstrom said.
When high, Nordstrom says his behavior changed.
"Once you come out of it, it's like what am I doing and you're like shaking and stuff. It's like you try to control it and you can't, you really can't," Nordstrom said.
Nordstrom says he has been sober now for nearly three months.
Hovet says he's been synthetic drug free for 113 days and counting.
"At narcotics anonymous they say once an addict always an addict," Nordstrom said.
Synthetic marijuana can be purchased for less than $20.
"Whether I stole the money to get it, stole something to sell to get it, or I had the money myself. I had to have it," Nordstrom said.
Synthetic drug users are supposed to be at least 18 to buy these drugs.
"Some places don't even ID you," ," Nordstrom said.
Detective Nicole Mattson says these drugs are dangerous.
"On the backs of each one of these cartons, I have here for display, all say not for human consumption," Detective Nicole Mattson, Virginia Police, said.
"Throwing up, just make yourself sick and for a time there, I wasn't able to control my bowels," Hovet said.
Nordstrom and Hovet continue the fight to stay away from synthetics.
"It's got a hold of me and will always be a part of my life. That's why I don't think I'll ever be cured," Hovet said.
"I feel grateful now, you know? I got a kid on the way. I have to. Due within nine days and I'm really excited," Nordstrom said.
Nordstrom and Hovet are currently attending 12–step treatment programs.
Justin Reis, NNC.