Trends in Drug Use: The Threat of New Designer Drugs

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Trends in Drug Use: The Threat of New Designer Drugs

Drug education and prevention programs usually cover the basics of the dangers of drugs like heroin, cocaine, and even alcohol. However, society- and the law- is having trouble keeping up with the influx of new designer drugs on the market. Many of these substances aren’t technically illegal because they are new chemical compounds that haven’t yet been scheduled. New designer drugs are also called research chemicals or synthetic drugs. These drugs are usually legal and accessible but have extremely dangerous side effects.

New Designer Drugs on the Market

The problem with keeping up with new designer drugs is that they are often analogs of well-known chemicals. For example, many fentanyl analogs are synthesized in foreign labs and sold on the market as “heroin” to addicts and users (Drug Enforcement Administration.) The problem is that these drugs are not well-studied nor are they technically illegal, and no one truly knows the potential effects of many of them. Whenever one of these new designer drugs is made illegal, manufacturers simply change one chemical compound and create a new analog that can be sold on the street, so the law is often playing catch-up with regard to regulating these substances.

Examples of New Designer Drugs

Bath salts and “spice” are two examples of new designer drugs that were legally sold to users and that had tragic consequences. “Bath salts” were sold under the guise of being aromatherapy additives for baths or spa treatments, but were commonly snorted or injected by users and sold widely at gas stations and convenience stores. These drugs have a stimulant effect, and some of them cause hallucinations. “Spice” or K2 are examples of new designers drugs that were reported to cause effects similar to that of marijuana. These drugs were also legal and were sold as “incense” but were often smoked by users. Spice and K2 may have been reported to be similar to marijuana, but these drugs caused hallucinations, psychotic episodes, seizures, and erratic behavior. The trouble with most of these chemicals is that they range in composition, and there is often no way to determine how potent they are or to predict their effects on users.

New Opiate and Hallucinogenic Designer Drugs

While bath salts and spice were both eventually banned in many states due to their destructive effect on users- landing some of them in the hospital and prompting episodes of violence in others- new designer drugs enter the market every day, and so far there is very little regulation or protocol for handling them. For example, many of the new designer drugs on the market are opiates; for example, fentanyl analogs synthesized in foreign labs that make their way into the U.S. market. One of these drugs, carfentanil, is so powerful it can cause overdoses when taken in amounts as small as a grain of salt (DEA.) According to the DEA, the main producer of these drugs is China. While Chinese officials have banned many fentanyl analogs, manufacturers produce new chemical compounds as soon as the old ones are banned, making it hard for law enforcement to keep up. New designer drugs that mimic the effects of some hallucinogens, like LSD and MDMA, have also recently begun to show up in Europe and the United States. For example, a drug called “n-bomb” or “25I”  is being sold as a drug similar to LSD or mescaline, but the side effects are disturbing. USA Today reports that the drug caused the death of one college student in Arizona and caused another young adult to have such severe seizures he was put into a medically-induced coma to save his life.

The Threat of New Designer Drugs

One of the reasons new designer drugs may appeal to people is that they are reported to produce similar effects to “traditional” street drugs, but they are legal and usually cheaper. Unfortunately, they are often just as dangerous as drugs like heroin or cocaine. In fact, they can be even more dangerous because oftentimes, first responders aren’t familiar with the drugs and may not know the best course of treatment for someone who is suffering bad side effects. When the terrible consequences of these drugs become clear, there is often a move to ban them. For some users, however, this comes too late. Trying new designer drugs is a huge gamble that for some individuals costs them their life. If you suffer from a drug problem and find yourself trying new, untested chemicals that could be fatal, you may need help in treating addiction. If you need addiction therapy and help in forming new coping mechanisms in a small, luxury facility that uses evidence-based treatment, call Wellness Retreat Recovery today at 888-821-0238. We can help you leave addiction behind and begin a new life.