Kevin Parker started with synthetic marijuana but it wasn't long before he tried synthetic cocaine. Sometimes he bought small jars labeled as "bath salts" at some stores or it was called "K4" or "blizzard" at others. Parker says the drugs were never more than ten minutes away since they are sold at so many head shops and corner stores around Upstate New York.
"Inside, I didn't see it as a problem. Of course, that's denial. Then I started breaking down, having physical problems. Now it's two years later and I'm on death's door," said Parker
After he started using bath salts and other synthetics, Parker started having heart trouble and was in and out of the hospital. He knows it is hard for many people to understand but Parker says he was willing to smoke a chemical product "not for human consumption" to get high. He continued using it even after serious health problems started.
"You're trying to fill a hole. Because something is missing in your life or something that happened in your childhood," said Parker. "People do drugs for a lot of different reasons. There's a level of don't care. There's a level of apathy. There's a level of how bad can it be?"
83 days ago, Parker decided it was too much and that the drugs had done too much damage to his life. Since then, he says he hasn't smoked bath salts or any other designer drugs. He says his synthetic drug use destroyed his health and his relationships with people he cares about. Parker does still carry one unopened package of synthetic marijuana with him as motivation to stay clean.
"I will show you this in a year from now or ten years from now. I look at this every day and I remember how far I came and I will never open this package, no matter what," said Parker.
Parker hopes to talk with teens and law enforcement officers about dangerous synthetic drugs and his own experiences.