There has been a recent boom in the use of designer drugs such as spice, K2 and bath salts. Since their creation in the late 2000’s, the younger generation has taken hold of these designer drugs and don’t seem to find anything wrong with the drugs due to their legality. These drugs are known as either synthetic drugs or designer drugs, which are chemically, laced substances similar to drugs like marijuana, cocaine or methamphetamine. Besides having similar a chemical makeup to certain illegal drugs, these designer drugs are sold over the counter at your local convenience store, gas station or tobacco shop.
Within the category of designer drugs, there are two different categories. These two categories are cannabinoids and cathinones. These classifications have been made depending on chemical makeup and the resulting effects of the drug on an individual.
The cannabinoids category is where K2 and Spice fall into, which consist of lab manufactured THC to try and resemble the effects of marijuana on the body. The cathinones category contains the drug known as bath salts. This category of synthetic drugs attempts to mimic the effects of cocaine or meth. Both categories can be considered dangerous and people should be educated about the consequences each holds for them if taken.
Are Synthetic Drugs Dangerous?
As mentioned earlier, designer drugs are chemically made in a lab by chemists. When these synthetic drugs are sold to consumers, there is not an ingredient list to tell the person what exactly they will be taking. There are a number of chemicals used to create these drugs and some of the chemicals have been tested to be two to 500 times stronger than the THC found in marijuana. If that isn’t dangerous enough, then the fact that these chemicals being used to create designer drugs have yet to be tested on animals or humans to see if they are safe for consumption or the short and long term effects of them should be reason enough. The problem is many taking these drugs do not think of the consequences or the research that has been done on them.
Unfortunately these synthetic drugs are labeled “not for consumption” and this creates a loop hole for the substances to not have to go through testing before selling them to retail stores. The loop hole also saves the manufacturers from arrests if their product ever became illegal within a country. The notice that states not to consume the product does not seem to stop individuals from taking the drug or think maybe it really should not be consumed. Just as not listing the ingredients is a danger to users, so is the fact that the product does not get a chance to be examined by the FDA or other administration for approval.
Symptoms & Effects of Bath Salts
Even though the research on bath salts is not as extensive as other illicit drugs, researchers have had time to figure out the effects due to frequent hospital visits by the drug’s users and their own experiments as well. The symptoms one feels when taking bath salts can be any of the following:
- Lack of sleep
- Loss of appetite
There are some users that describe the effects of bath salts as a horrible experience, due to seeing some sort of monster or demon coming after them. These users reported that sometimes the symptoms could last for up to three days. If these symptoms go on for too long, some individuals require psychiatric care for a continued period of time because the effects would not wear off at all.
If an individual continues to abuse bath salts for an extended period time, there can be severe consequences and lasting effects an individual will have to deal with. Some of the other effects found to occur are as follows:
- Kidney or liver failure
- Risk of suicide
- Long term mental illness
The fact that there is so much unknown about bath salts and what is known is all negative leads one to believe there cannot possibly be any good about this designer drug.
Symptoms & Effects of K2/Spice
The designer drugs known as K2 or Spice are essentially an imitation of marijuana. The only difference between the two are one grows naturally and the other is made in a lab with unknown chemicals. Both K2 and Spice are sold in local stores as incense, so they do not have to list all of the ingredients contained within the product. The problem with this is that the ingredients not listed on the wrapper are usually the most dangerous and alter the mind in some way. Without a label on the bag, the individual taking the synthetic drugs has no clue what chemicals they are taking or how potent the chemicals really are.
Furthermore the packaging clearly states that the contents inside the bag are not for human consumption, yet most people consume the product anyways. In reality, the only reason the label is on the bag is for the same reason bath salts have the “not for consumption” label on it; to avoid being tested and examined by any organization.
K2 and Spice both have many dangerous side effects for any individual who decides to administer the designer drug. The symptoms one feels while on the drug can include:
- Desire for “high” to stop
These are a few of the mild effects one may have. There have been instances that individuals feel paranoia or other effects that landed them in the emergency room because of a panic attack or increase heart rate, which needed immediate medical attention. Reports have been coming in from across the country about more and more young teens needing emergency medical attention due to administering this synthetic marijuana.
In addition to having immediate negative symptoms, there are also other effects that one can have after abusing K2 or Spice for a period of time. These can include problems with:
- Short-term memory
- Ability to reason
- Emotional stability
The effects and symptoms listed above for K2 and Spice are only what have been recorded up to this point. Unfortunately, there have been issues performing extensive research of the designer drugs long term effects and any other issues that could arise from an individual abusing these designer drugs because they are one of the newest drugs on the market.
What is Being Done About These Designer Drugs?
Due to the lack of research done on these drugs, it is difficult to say definitively what will happen with their legality and production, but one thing is definite: The Drug Enforcement Administration has begun to take emergency action against these synthetic drugs to make them all illegal. As the DEA performs their actions to make the drugs illegal, there are also studies being done to find out the short and long term effects of the synthetic drugs.
The biggest challenge for drug regulators and even parents is to try and stay ahead of the chemists creating these drugs. There are new variations of the formulas coming out all of the time because the DEA continues to find ways to place certain chemicals on the controlled substance list, which makes them illegal to buy, sell or manufacture. The main issue with this is that the chemists find a way to change the formula slightly and still produce similar effects. And unfortunately each chemical must be put on the controlled substance list one at a time, but the DEA is working on changing this as to make all designer drugs similar in chemical makeup to illicit drugs illegal. The best thing to do for now is stay up to date on what is going on with the ban of designer drugs and any new items hitting the market that could be potentially dangerous.
Once extensive research has been completed and more information is available, individuals will be able to make a sound decision regarding the synthetic drugs. Until this happens, the experiences of others that were mostly negative and horror stories is all researchers, law enforcement and parents have to go off of. Synthetic drugs are an unknown to society and either scare them away from the drug or entice them to use the drug.
In the case of those who decide to use these designer drugs, their addictiveness has not been fully researched along with many other aspects of their effects on people. The signs point to the fact that these drugs are more than likely addictive and can have detrimental effects on anyone who chooses to abuse them. If you suspect someone close to you abusing these drugs, do not think because there is not that much research on them that they do not need help. You can call one of our addiction specialists at Freedom Treatment Center to find out how we can help overcome an addiction to designer drugs today!