promo deadly high how synthetic drugs kill kids _00002514.jpg
promo deadly high how synthetic drugs kill kids _00002514.jpg
Now playing
07:56
The hidden dangers of synthetic drugs
USCG/ Brandon Murray
Now playing
00:46
Coast Guard seizes $47M in drugs
CNN/FACEBOOK/TEXAS DEPT OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE
Now playing
00:41
$18M of cocaine hidden in bananas
An undated handout photo obtained on July 3, 2016, shows a large diamante-encrusted horse head from Mexico from which New Zealand police said they have seized a record 10 million USD worth of cocaine hidden inside. 
The largest-ever haul of the drug in New Zealand has been linked to the rebuild of the city of Christchurch, severely damaged in a 2011 earthquake, and the Australian market. / AFP / STR        (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
STR/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
An undated handout photo obtained on July 3, 2016, shows a large diamante-encrusted horse head from Mexico from which New Zealand police said they have seized a record 10 million USD worth of cocaine hidden inside. The largest-ever haul of the drug in New Zealand has been linked to the rebuild of the city of Christchurch, severely damaged in a 2011 earthquake, and the Australian market. / AFP / STR (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
00:45
Millions of dollars of cocaine found in bejeweled head
cocaine record haul Coast Guard nccorig_00012704.jpg
cocaine record haul Coast Guard nccorig_00012704.jpg
Now playing
01:59
Coast Guard brings home record cocaine haul
Orange County Jail
Now playing
00:58
'Last of the Cocaine Cowboys' arrested
A police officer guards a haul of drugs that are on display at an Australian Federal Police office in Sydney, Australia, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016. Officials have seized more than a ton of cocaine worth about 360 million Australian dollars ($260 million) in what police have dubbed one of the largest drug busts in the nation's history. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
Rick Rycroft/AP
A police officer guards a haul of drugs that are on display at an Australian Federal Police office in Sydney, Australia, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016. Officials have seized more than a ton of cocaine worth about 360 million Australian dollars ($260 million) in what police have dubbed one of the largest drug busts in the nation's history. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
Now playing
00:53
Massive cocaine bust breaks record
Heroin new Hampshire feyerick dnt erin_00001308.jpg
Heroin new Hampshire feyerick dnt erin_00001308.jpg
Now playing
02:44
DEA: Heroin 'epidemic' creeping across U.S.
Canadian women who Instagrammed their holiday on a cruise ship before being arrested in Sydney in a massive cocaine bust.
From Instagram
Canadian women who Instagrammed their holiday on a cruise ship before being arrested in Sydney in a massive cocaine bust.
Now playing
01:00
Women on luxury cruise caught with $23M in cocaine
pkg feyerick gateway to heroin_00031309.jpg
pkg feyerick gateway to heroin_00031309.jpg
Now playing
03:47
Heroin use on the rise in the U.S.
hollywood heroin dnt_00002927.jpg
WWLP
hollywood heroin dnt_00002927.jpg
Now playing
01:42
'Hollywood' heroin shows up in Massachusetts
sacramento opioid overdoses pkg _00005106.jpg
sacramento opioid overdoses pkg _00005106.jpg
Now playing
01:47
Contaminated pills lead to deaths, overdoses
ST. JOHNSBURY, VT - FEBRUARY 06:   Drugs are prepared to shoot intravenously by a user addicted to heroin on February 6, 2014 in St. Johnsbury Vermont. Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin recently devoted his entire State of the State speech to the scourge of heroin. Heroin and other opiates have begun to devastate many communities in the Northeast and Midwest leading to a surge in fatal overdoses in a number of states. As prescription painkillers, such as the synthetic opiate OxyContin, become increasingly expensive and regulated, more and more Americans are turning to heroin to fight pain or to get high. Heroin, which has experienced a surge in production in places such as Afghanistan and parts of Central America, has a relatively inexpensive street price and provides a more powerful affect on the user. New York City police are currently investigating the death of the actor Philip Seymour Hoffman who was found dead last Sunday with a needle in his arm.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
ST. JOHNSBURY, VT - FEBRUARY 06: Drugs are prepared to shoot intravenously by a user addicted to heroin on February 6, 2014 in St. Johnsbury Vermont. Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin recently devoted his entire State of the State speech to the scourge of heroin. Heroin and other opiates have begun to devastate many communities in the Northeast and Midwest leading to a surge in fatal overdoses in a number of states. As prescription painkillers, such as the synthetic opiate OxyContin, become increasingly expensive and regulated, more and more Americans are turning to heroin to fight pain or to get high. Heroin, which has experienced a surge in production in places such as Afghanistan and parts of Central America, has a relatively inexpensive street price and provides a more powerful affect on the user. New York City police are currently investigating the death of the actor Philip Seymour Hoffman who was found dead last Sunday with a needle in his arm. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Now playing
05:18
New Hampshire's drug abuse epidemic
The U.S. Coast Guard displays a reported 14 tons of cocaine stacked on the deck of a Cutter in San Diego
The U.S. Coast Guard displays a reported 14 tons of cocaine stacked on the deck of a Cutter in San Diego
Now playing
01:06
More than 10 tons of cocaine on San Diego pier
new drug flakka dnt_00000701.jpg
Drug Enforcement Administration
new drug flakka dnt_00000701.jpg
Now playing
01:23
Is the new drug flakka more dangerous than cocaine?
erin pkg griffin molly party drug investigation_00012423.jpg
erin pkg griffin molly party drug investigation_00012423.jpg
Now playing
03:53
Hidden dangers of party drug 'Molly'

Story highlights

New York reports 160 hospitalizations related to synthetic marijuana

Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a health alert

(CNN) —  

New York state authorities have issued a health alert following a dramatic spike in hospital visits for synthetic marijuana-related emergencies.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday that more than 160 patients in nine days have been rushed to hospitals across the state for adverse reactions to synthetic cannabinoid, known as “spice” or “K2.”

“Spice” and other similar synthetic drugs are often marketed as legal plant material coated with chemicals that are supposed to mimic the effects of marijuana, according to a statement from the governor’s office.

“Since the exact compounds contained in synthetic cannabinoid products change so frequently, it’s often impossible for users to know exactly what they are putting in their body,” acting New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said.

Symptoms after use have a wide range of severity, from confusion, drowsiness and headaches to increased heart rate, seizures and loss of consciousness, according to the New York State Department of Health.

Synthetic marijuana is popular among teens because it is marketed as incense or natural products to “mask its true purpose,” the health department statement said.

“Young people may be fooled into thinking that these substances are safe because they are sold over the counter or are in colorful packaging, but they are not made for human consumption,” New York Alcohol and Substance Abuse Service s Commissioner Arlene Gonzalez Sanchez said. “They are dangerous and can have significant, long-term effects on the brain.”

The recent surge is not isolated in New York; other states across the country have noticed similar trends.

Alabama Department of Public Health issued a statement last week acknowledging a rise of synthetic marijuana usage and said there had been 98 overdoses suspected to be linked with “spice” in the previous month.

Mobile County alone has seen seven cases in 2015 so far, more than the entire previous year, the statement said.

Mississippi health officials are also concerned that synthetic marijuana is on the rise.

Ninety-seven cases over an eight-day span in April were reported to the Mississippi Poison Control Center, a Department of Health press release said.