12 INVESTIGATES: Inside the mind of a former 'spice' addict

Published: Sep. 10, 2012 at 7:55 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 26, 2012 at 6:11 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - It's easy to find, cheap to buy and apparently very addictive.

Virginia lawmakers have tried to ban it - but the manufacturers find ways to skirt the law.

We're talking about 'spice,' or synthetic marijuana, a trend 12 On Your Side Investigates has been tracking for months.

It's sold in RVA stores as incense, but kids are smoking it.

"I was going to die. If I wasn't going to kill myself, I was going to die," said 19-year-old Brandon Goodwin. "From the time I woke up first thing that came to mind was you know hitting it, how am I going to get it today or when am I going to get up to go get it."

The Colonial Heights native has been hospitalized three times, twice in a psychiatric ward.

"I had a knife up to my neck one time. I hallucinate when I want it or when I think about it. I didn't want to associate with anyone unless they had it," said Goodwin.

"It is a parent's nightmare," adds his mother, April Shifflett. She watched her son go from a good, fun-loving student to a loner, with violent mood swings. "Seeing my child go through the anxiety, the psychotic episodes, the suicidal thoughts and threats."

She doesn't want another parent or child to go through what she and Brandon have. "He's lost a lot because of it. He's lost his job, he's lost his self confidence, he's lost memory. It effects him to this very day," said Shifflett.

"If you don't stop hitting it, you're going to die. It's like a waiting game 'til your die," adds Goodwin.

Brandon's been struggling to say clean. When he thinks of spice now, one word pops in his head. "Devil... coming to get me. He ain't coming to get me no more."

Brandon is still recovering from his spice addiction. There are good days and bad. His mother wants other parents to know what can happen. She's waging a war against the stores that sell it. Last week she staged a protest outside a Colonial Heights tobacco store.

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