Why Are Synthetic Drugs Dangerous? [Guide]

Gone are the days of drug dealers have to rely on traditional methods.  Illicit substances like marijuana, heroin, and cocaine will always have a market, but they have a high legal risk to both buyer and seller.  When faced with the dilemma of wanting to use (or sell) but being afraid of criminal charges, people turn to synthetic drugs.

If you have been playing this dangerous game and are ready to stop, getting professional help can jump-start your recovery.  Please, call us today at 405-583- 4390.  You deserve help and we can give it to you.

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Trying to wade through the ever-changing sea of information about synthetic drugs can seem impossible.  However, we’re here for you with the information you need to understand these dangerous substances.

A History of Synthetic Drugs

A German chemist, Justus von Liebig, made the very first synthetic drug.  The drug, chloral hydrate, was used for 30 years after its design to treat insomnia and create a hypnotic effect on troubled patients.

Since then, chemists have created thousands of new drugs.  Between 2009 and 2014 alone, the US government identified around 300 new synthetics.  The synthetic business has boomed, but where did it come from?

While drugs have been in labs for a long time, it’s only recently that abuse has become widespread.  Alexander Shulgin explores the potential for synthetic phenethylamines during the 1960s.  He tested multitudes of synthetic variations and recorded his reactions (and those of his wife and friends).  After years of research, Shulgin concluded that drug MDMA could help people suffering from mental disorders like PTSD.

It seems to work.  Evidence has been building steadily for years that show MDMA’s ability to break through emotional barriers can improve PTSD and other disorders.  Shulgin’s research explains the astounding potential of MDMA as a treatment option. However, it was banned in 1985.  MDMA can make you feel happy and increase your empathy towards others.  As soon as people learned about it, it became popular in the party scene.  When the US government saw a rise in this “party” drug, they classified it as a Schedule I drug, meaning there are no recognized medical benefits to MDMA.

Designer Drugs

Since then, chemists have been creating designer drugs so quickly that it’s hard to keep track of them.

Designer drugs differ in one significant way from traditional ones.  Synthetic drugs are born in labs.  The creators of these drugs take the chemical formula of what makes natural drugs work, such as the THC in marijuana, and make tiny adjustments.  With the formula tweaked, the new drug is no longer illegal in the eyes of the American government.  These synthetics end up displayed by the cash registers at gas stations and sold on the internet.  People buy them thinking they are legitimate ways to have a little fun.

The ugly reality of designer drugs is that they are more dangerous than the original substances they mimic.  Synthetic drugs like Spice, K2, and Flakka had left a trail of ruined lives through America. But what is spice, what is k2, and what is flakka?  These substances are hazardous and highly addictive.  If you or someone you care about is using synthetic drugs, please reach out for help.  Each time they consume a synthetic, users are effectively gambling with their lives. If you are concerned about someone you love, call us today. We will help you, or someone you care for, get through this fight. No one has to suffer alone. Call today and start living a better tomorrow.

Drugs by Design

Caveat Emptor – the ancient Romans had it right.  Designer drugs appeal to people by marketing their legality.  However, the ugly truth of these drugs is that they’re extremely dangerous, sometimes far more than the drugs they are trying to imitate.  When it comes to synthetic drugs, the buyer should indeed beware.

Designer drugs are synthesized in labs by chemists who are trying to replicate the effects of traditional drugs. With these substances, it’s all about the chemical compound.  When the government bans a substance, what they’re banning is the chemical formula that makes the drug work.  Marijuana isn’t illegal because of its leafiness.  It’s illegal because of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC.  THC is the chemical in marijuana that produces the mind-altering effects people are after when they consume weed.

So: there is a market for THC and the government has banned marijuana. What’s an enterprising chemist to do but look for a loophole?  That loophole came in the form of designer drugs.  Chemists take the formula for THC and tweak it just enough.  Drugs like Spice or K2 are chemically similar to THC and sometimes produce similar effects when used.

The highest risk with synthetic drugs comes from the tweaking of the formula.  Think about the difference between H2O and H2O2 – it’s just one molecule of oxygen, but that one little molecule turns life-giving water into hydrogen peroxide.  It’s like asking for a glass of water and getting one filled with hydrogen peroxide instead. Experimenting with designer drugs is very similar.  One molecular change to the formula can turn something familiar into something dangerous. If you are suffering from addiction to a synthetic drug, then call us today. Our experts will work with you to get you the help you need.

One of the main appeals of designer drugs is that they aren’t technically illegal – if you’re caught with them, what can a cop arrest you for?  The synthetic weed in your pocket isn’t marijuana or any other substance on the schedule of illegal drugs.

Synthetic drugs start as legal substances.  Smoke shops, gas stations, and internet vendors sell them without consequence.  They only start out legal, however; law enforcement is always on the lookout for new synthetic drugs to add to the banned substance list.

When a synthetic drug becomes illegal, it moves to the underground.  Bath salts, a synthetic that replicates cocaine and meth, were in stores under the guise of bath salts.  Since their horrific side effects became public knowledge, bath salts have joined the underground market.

Once a formula is illegal, the chemist tweaks the recipe again.  One change to the compound means it is technically no longer the illicit formula and can be sold to the public once again. Are you suffering from addiction? If so, then call our professionals today. We will be able to provide you will the tools necessary to start a healthier life. Do not wait. Call today.

While the landscape of synthetic drugs is constantly changing, here are the three main types:

Synthetic Cannabinoids.  As the name suggests, synthetic cannabinoids seek to replicate the feeling of cannabis or marijuana.  In retail stores, they are sold under the label of “potpourri” or “herbal incense” and are marked as unfit for human consumption.  This label goes with an unsaid wink from the seller.  Synthetic cannabinoids commonly go by the names of Spice or K2, but there are more than 90 varieties on the market.  When sold in retail stores, it can be found in brightly colored packages.

Synthetic Cathinones.  Cathinone synthetics reproduce the feelings of meth, cocaine, and MDMA.  Bath salts are perhaps the most notorious of these, making national headlines in 2012 for a vicious, disturbing altercation.  Like Spice, bath salts were sold in stores as a product not meant to be taken internally, but have now migrated to underground drug markets.  One of the latest cathinones is Flakka.  Flakka and bath salts are almost identical (only a tiny difference in their formulas separating them), and both are commonly sold as plant food or jewelry cleaners.

Synthetic phenethylamines.  The most popular (and illicit) synthetic phenethylamines are those that mimic hallucinogens.

Health Risks

All drug use comes with a grocery list of health risks.  With synthetic drugs, that list runs a mile long.

Designer drugs are continually evolving in order to sell products legally.  When changing the formula, there’s no way of knowing how it will affect the human body.  Additionally, these drugs are rushed out without quality control.  You won’t know what you’re putting into your body until it’s too late.  Synthetics can be much more potent than their natural counterparts as well as more addictive.

Cannabinoids.  While the risks of marijuana are usually mild unlike other drugs, K2 and Spice can be devastating.  Some of the risks are:

  • Violent reactions and behavior
  • Paranoia
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Suicidal ideation

Phenethylamines.  Like cannabinoids, the dangers of synthetic phenethylamines come from the unpredictability of their quality, potency, and effect on the body.  The list of risks is a little more severe, however:

  • Seizures
  • Cardiac/Respiratory arrest
  • Death

Cathinones.  Of all the synthetics, cathinones are perhaps the most dangerous.  Violent, random attacks make their way into national news stories occasionally, and they are always disturbing to the extreme.  The common risks are:

  • Hallucinations
  • Stomach pains and headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Extreme violent behavior

In the case of bath salts and flakka, “extreme violent behavior” is a little too clinical.  In 2012 and 2016, men suspected of being on either drug attacked and killed someone, and gnawed on their victims’ faces.

The dangers of synthetics are not widely discussed or recognized by the American public, but with each year that passes, these substances get a little more infamous.  The news is littered with stories of violent attacks and tragic deaths involving synthetic drugs. Call our experts today, and get help for any addiction you are battling. Remember, you are not alone. We are here to help.

Experimenting With Synthetic Drugs

While some people come to synthetic drugs by happenstance (such as in situations where their drug of choice can’t be found), the idea that synthetic drugs are safer and legal is a driving force behind sales.  The unfortunate truth is that neither of these assumptions is correct.  New synthetics are legal on a technicality alone – you can’t preemptively ban a substance that doesn’t exist yet.  Worse, synthetics are far more dangerous than their counterparts.  Synthetic marijuana, for example, has more in common with hard drugs than weed when it comes to health and addiction risks.

Because so many synthetic strains are in stores under misleading names like Scooby Snax, Green Giant, and Joker, young people migrate to them.  Today’s parents face a new challenge when talking to their teens about drug use.  They must educate their children about the traditional dangers like peer pressure, but now they have to explain that just because it’s in a store doesn’t make it safe.  In 2018, more than 300 people in Washington DC overdosed on synthetic marijuana in two weeks alone because they thought Spice was safe.

Some people like experimenting with novel drugs.  Through the internet, they order the latest strains of synthetics.  While they’re taking these drugs for fun, they’re actually acting as lab rats for the chemists.

Synthetic Drugs Are a Real Threat

Teens and young adults seem to be at the highest risk for synthetic drug problems.  This stems from both the fact that they think it is a safe alternative to other drugs and that they don’t fully understand the risks they are taking.  With synthetic drugs, there is no way of guessing what you’re about to ingest.  It could produce a positive effect similar to what it’s aiming to copy.  Or, thanks to the molecular tweaks, one dose could also kill you.

Staying away from synthetic drugs could save your life.  They are not a legal, safe alternative to traditional drug use.  If you are suffering from synthetic drug addiction, or you are afraid that someone you love is using, reach out to us for help at the number below. Our experts have the knowledge and resources to help you address this problem before it is too late.

By Malory McDermott


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