The war against synthetic drugs is an expanding part of the overall War on Drugs fought primarily by the US government. However, synthetic drugs are increasingly becoming more of a problem because of their wide availability and adaptability to various eradication and control methods. Unlike historical synthetic drugs, today’s synthetic drugs can be made by individuals and groups with little to no knowledge of chemistry, or by chemistry or biology students who turn to manufacturing synthetic drugs as an easy – but risky – form of income. Examining this problem is crucial in order to help control it.
There are two major differences between synthetic drug types targeted by the War on Drugs. This includes drugs that have long been subject to interdiction and control like heroin, Oxycodone, and methamphetamines. The second group comprises relatively new drugs that in some cases have only recently been developed and manufactured. This includes drugs like ecstasy, bath salts, LSD, and many new prescription drugs.
Synthetic essentially means “not naturally occurring.” In the case of synthetic drugs like heroin, organic materials have been chemically altered to create an entirely new substance that, before synthesis by man, did not exist before. Synthetic drugs are responsible for the rapidly improving state of health in most developed countries, but these drugs are also often abused. This is a critical concern because synthetic drugs can be extremely addictive. Additionally, because synthetic drugs are usually made in unsanctioned and ill-equipped “laboratories,” they can contain dangerous compounds that can cause illness, injury or death. These drugs include:
Fake marijuana products such as K2 and Spice – the most commonly used and publicly known brands of these drugs – have been condemned as dangerous from the time they were first produced. The chemical makeup of these two particular fake pot products have already been made illegal by the United States government, but drug manufacturers quickly found ways to work around the laws, according to WBAL TV in Baltimore:
“Fake pot is nothing new; it was once called K2 or Spice. Federal authorities have banned the five active ingredients, but it didn’t take long for chemists to alter the formula, replace the banned substances and put it back on the market, perfectly legal for anyone — even minors — to buy.” (1)
Fake pot products are especially popular in the military, where new chemical versions of the drug make it difficult for the Department of Defense to apply proper detection methods. The drugs are also popular among school children and teenagers, who have no difficulty in obtaining drugs like Spice and K2 that are now renamed as something else.
The bath salt hysteria in the United States at present is largely due to the fact that this is a new, relatively unknown drug that causes bizarre behavior in individuals who use it. Bath salts are difficult to define and can be manufactured from a number of different chemicals that are all similar in structure and effect to meth. In an article for WebMD Daniel J. DeNoon reports:
“Mephedrone, a key ingredient in the designer-drug mix sold as “bath salts” or as other substances, induces methamphetamine-like cravings in rats. Like meth but unlike ecstasy, rats quickly develop a craving for mephedrone and will keep pressing a lever in order to get more. Like meth, mephedrone increases brain levels of dopamine.” (2)
But despite the similarities between meth and bath salts, reports from around the country indicate that bath salts are far more dangerous, more addictive and more likely to cause extremes in behavior. Because of the relative newness of the drug, more studies are needed to understand it.
The War on Drugs attacks ecstasy worldwide despite the fact that there exists the possibility for the therapeutic use of the drug. Unfortunately, thousands of people worldwide abuse the drug, which keeps real research into the possibilities that the drug could help people when used correctly from gaining momentum. This is largely due to reports of emergency room visits and bizarre behavior related to ecstasy or MDMA use. According to an article on the drug in Wikipedia;
“In a published summary of the effects, the authors reported patients felt improved in various, mild psychiatric disorders and experienced other personal benefits, especially improved intimate communication with their significant others. In a subsequent publication on the treatment method, the authors reported that one patient with severe pain from terminal cancer experienced lasting pain relief and improved quality of life.” (3)
But because ecstasy quickly impairs the central nervous system’s ability to manufacture and utilize serotonin, ecstasy has also been found to cause severe depression in many recreational users.
LSD or lysergic acid diethylamide is a synthetic compound that has been illegal for decades, but nevertheless is enjoying a resurgence in popularity among drug users. Like ecstasy, there was once significant use for LSD from a therapeutic standpoint, and for years in the 50’s and 60’s the drug was used by therapists all over the world to help treat symptoms of various emotional disorders and psychoses. However, the War on Drugs targets LSD because people frequently abuse it, with sometimes disastrous consequences.
“LSD, peyote, psilocybin, and PCP are drugs that cause hallucinations, which are profound distortions in a person’s perception of reality. Under the influence of hallucinogens, people see images, hear sounds, and feel sensations that seem real but are not. Some hallucinogens also produce rapid, intense emotional swings.” (4)
One of the most significant problems with synthetic drugs is that makers of these substances can quickly alter the chemical makeup of the drug in order to avoid detection and circumvent legislation and law enforcement that might work to outlaw and control it. This only adds to the number of people each year who become addicted to these drugs or die as a result of them. However, help is available.
If you or someone you love has been suffering from an addiction to synthetic drugs, the time to act is now. All you have to do is pick up the phone and dial the number at the top of your screen for a free consultation. It doesn’t matter what time of day it is or where you’re located – all that matters is that you start the process right now.
(1) WBAL TV Baltimore Some Fake Pot Products Contain Dangerous Chemical 12/15/2011
(2) DeNoon, Daniel J ‘Bath Salts’ Have Effects Similar to Meth, Ecstasy Aug. 16, 2011
(3) Wikipedia MDMA
(4) National Institute on Drug Abuse NIDA InfoFacts: Hallucinogens – LSD, Peyote, Psilocybin, and PCP