As if the danger of drugs whose names are well-known to the average person weren’t enough, there is a new danger in the world of recreational drugs: synthetic drugs. Synthetic drugs are a relatively new problem – the most popular ones have only been in use for a few decades. Unlike heroin and cocaine, both of which are ultimately derived from plants, synthetic drugs are created from man-made chemicals, and are incredibly dangerous to anyone who may encounter them. Sometimes called, ‘designer drugs,’ these compounds often come with deadly side effects. While the exact origin of any of the designer drugs is unknown, this hasn’t stopped them from becoming wildly popular on party scenes and among people who were already heavy drug users.
People who take synthetic drugs come from all walks of life – these drugs are easily accessible due to their makeup being comprised common household chemicals. The age range of those using synthetic drugs is heavily concentrated among young males in their early- to mid-20s, but people as young as 13 and people into middle age have become hooked on alleged ‘legal drugs.’ Some of these drugs are made in labs, others are simply the adulterated chemicals themselves, taken intravenously. However someone chooses to take synthetic drugs, each use places the user’s life on the line, and the thrill of the effects can (and many times, has) taken a person over the edge, ending their life in an overdose.
The scariest part about these drugs is that many people don’t even realize what they’re using is pure chemical – there is a large group of people that feel that these chemicals are safer than street drugs. This, though, couldn’t be further from the truth. Changing the perception of these drugs is easier when one understands what is out there, and what anyone struggling with drug addiction is truly up against.
Synthetic Marijuana, aka ‘Spice’
Synthetic marijuana is made by spraying imitation cannabinoids on plant material that resembles ground marijuana flower. Perhaps this doesn’t sounds harmful, but the chemicals that exists in the synthetic cannabinoids have been known to cause long, unpleasant highs. Synthetic marijuana highs often come with increased heart rate, panic attacks, thoughts of suicide, and overdoses from small amounts. Unlike natural marijuana, synthetic marijuana has no therapeutic benefits, and exists solely on the black market. Widely available for purchase via the internet, synthetic marijuana has made its way around the world, sweeping up and destroying innocent lives in the process. Most of the labs that produce this chemical operate illegally in Russia, and different parts of Asia.
Bath salts are a combination of dangerous ingredients that come in the form of little crystals. The chemicals are mixed, and allowed to dry. Once someone has bath salts, they’re melted down, usually with a combination of a spoon and a lighter or match. People who own their own homes and choose to use bath salts may opt to use their stove to heat their spoons. Bath salts are a powerful hallucinogen, much like Shrooms. Unlike Shrooms, though, bath salts can cause paranoia, nosebleeds, vomiting, seizures, suicidal thoughts, and death. Bath salts, like all designer or synthetic drugs, are unpredictable: there is a short baseline for typical symptoms, but that’s not reliable. Without any ability to track or assess the quality of the producers, every person – and every law enforcement agency – is left to grapple with the possibly violent effects of someone’s dangerous high.
XTC, called X or Molly, was one of the first designer drugs to gain mainstream notoriety. XTC continues to be used, and in some cases, loved, by fastidious party goers, and at music festivals and raves. XTC nearly always comes in pill form. Most choose to swallow XTC with water, though it may also be crushed, and ingested through the nose. Mixing XTC with alcohol can result in extreme symptoms of a super-elevated heart rate, high blood pressure, and stroke. It is news to some people that a stroke could kill anyone during a high, but it is one of the many medical maladies that can be faced by people who regularly use drugs. Identifying XTC, though, is usually fairly easy: pills stamped with silly or obscene symbols are one of the most common forms of the drug.
After the runaway success of Breaking Bad, a television show about a high school chemistry teacher who turns to manufacturing and selling drugs to pay medical bills, the widespread use and problem of methamphetamines was pushed to the mainstream. Crystal meth, the most addictive and dangerous incarnation of methamphetamines, was featured heavily on the show in a beautiful blue form that took the meth user community by storm. The real drug is usually clear, but can be white or yellowish. Crystal meth is usually smoked, but can be inhaled, or used intravenously. Once called, ‘The World’s Most Addictive Drug,’ what makes crystal meth so dangerous is that fact that one doesn’t have to use the drug to develop a dependance. Crystal meth is so addictive that consistent exposure to the fumes from a meth lab is enough to seriously affect a human body. Unlike the protagonist of Breaking Bad, it is extremely difficult to operate a meth lab without becoming addicted. Homes that were used for the purpose of manufacturing methamphetamines, whether they produced the extremely addictive crystal meth, or other methamphetamines, require special handling. Every major city has crime scene clean up services, and it is extremely important that anyone considering purchasing a home where drugs were manufactured utilize services like that before occupying the home.
The future is difficult to predict: on one hand, law enforcement constantly finds and catalogues the drugs, raising awareness in local communities about the dangers inherent to these drugs, and lifestyles that may lead someone to these drugs. On the other hand, drug manufacturers are getting smarter every year – so long as there is a demand, they will be around to fulfill it. Talking to the people you love about these dangerous chemicals is an important step in protecting those around you.
Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Arizona Addiction Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2007. Call 888-512-1705.
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