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Designer drugs – the new high in synthetic drug usage

The United States has been battling the dominance of drugs like heroin, marijuana, cocaine and various opioids for decades, and the law enforcement agencies have been able to check it to some extent. However, the authorities now face another challenge of the predominance of “designer drugs,” manmade substances created synthetically.

Designer drugs or synthetic drugs are generally made to mimic the effects of popular drugs in the category of prescription medications or illegal drugs to circumvent the strict law against its distribution and use. Since the chemical structures of these drugs are altered as compared to the original drugs commonly abused, the authorities often find it difficult to act over its misuse as it might not always be illegal. However, these drugs can have effects that can be fatal or significantly dangerous.

According to the 2014 Global Drugs Survey findings, the biggest users of synthetic drugs were in the U.S. with more than one in five using at least one of the compounds like bath salts, synthetic cannabis, etc. in the previous year. The 2015 survey states that there have been an increasing risk of dependence on these drugs; over 60 percent of the surveyed respondents used synthetic cannabis more than 50 times and have reported withdrawal symptoms.

Use of synthetic drugs are alarmingly high, especially among young people in the U.S., according to a factsheet highlighted on the White House website. It cited statistics from the 2012 Monitoring the Future survey of youth drug use trends, where one in nine of the 12th graders in America reported using synthetic cannabinoids, a synthetic drug, in the past year.

Why are designer drugs so popular?

One of the main reasons that these drugs are so popular is that its use is technically legal. A chemist can create a distinct drug by changing some of the molecules and make it different from an illegal drug. Thus, coming out of the “illegal” bandwagon, these drugs are easier to sell and buy. Sometimes these drugs are labeled “not for human consumption” in order to avoid breaking the law and being prosecuted.

Designer drugs are not only technically legal, but are also dirt cheap and easily available. In fact, designer drugs such as synthetic marijuana and bath salts can be bought for as low as $5 to $25, depending on the variety and dose.

Although these designer drugs are not within the purview of legal regulations, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has the power to temporarily schedule a drug it is investigating, and it can be positioned as a Schedule I drug. This then prohibits its use, sale, and distribution in the U.S. Even if a parent drug such as heroin was used, it is likely that the DEA can file charges against the new drug’s creator. This is possible because the original illegal drug would have to have been in possession (in many cases) to create the new synthetic drug.

Every designer drug has its own story

Mephedrone (synthetic stimulant), spice (synthetic cannabinoid), foxy methoxy (synthetic hallucinogen) are some common examples of designer drugs. The three major categories of these drugs are:

  • Synthetic cannabinoids mimic the effects of cannabis sprayed onto a herbal base material. Examples are Spice, Chill X, Genie, etc.
  • Synthetic stimulants which mimic cocaine are often marketed as bath salts and include methamphetamines and ecstasy.
  • Synthetic hallucinogens are those drugs which mimic LSD.

These designer drugs can have myriad effects on the user. Feelings of elation, being in high spirits, extreme relaxation and extended periods of wakefulness can be experienced by the user. There might be effects on the mental health of a person due to prolonged use of these drugs like paranoia, hallucinations, panic disorders and depression. Sometimes, it can even prove to be fatal.

Way to recovery

Different detox treatments can help a person to recover from addiction and designer drugs are no exception. Coupled with some psycho-therapies and counseling can help a patient improve his condition. It is important to make the patient understand that designer are not safe substitutes of illegal drugs. It is very important to diagnose the addiction to designer drugs at an earlier stage for proper treatment.

If you or someone you love is delving deep into the designer drugs addiction, seeking help is as important as for any other form of substance abuse. The substance abuse treatment specialists at 24/7 Recovery Helpline can help you take the first step towards recovery by offering you an effective treatment program. Connect via online chat or call at 855-441-4405 for more information.

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