"They really don't know what they're getting it when they use it," said McClain.
Officials at the Institute were instrumental in getting Texas legislators to craft and pass a law so broad that it made any compound that mimics an illegal drug also illegal. This way simply changing the chemical makeup of a drug doesn't make it legal.
Since 2011, the Institute reported finding synthetic drugs in the system of at least 10 people who've died. That does not automatically mean it caused the person's death. However, officials at the Institute said the prevalence of these synthetic drugs has gotten to the point where it is now routine to check for these drugs when a blood sample from a suspected drunken driver is submitted for testing.
"We thought this is really important. We need to look for it all the time," said Walterscheid.
In addition to testing a person's blood, the Institute has also been at the forefront in helping investigators identify different synthetic drugs. Since 2011, workers at the Institute have tested synthetic drugs in 274 individual cases brought in by police.
If you suspect someone has been poisoned by a synthetic drug you are urged to call police and report the case to the Texas Poison Center Network at 800-222-1222.