Designer drugs have been around for over 20 years. They were created in laboratories by chemists to mimic illegal drugs like marijuana, LSD, cocaine, and heroin. They’re popular because most are legal, and they usually don’t show up in a drug test. Yet they’re more dangerous than the drugs they mimic. Why? They’re unregulated. In other words, there’s no way to know exactly what you’re getting when you buy them. For example, teens across the country have been seriously injured and some have died when taking the designer drugs 2C-E and 3C-bromo-dragonfly. These kids thought they were buying one kind of designer drug, but were actually sold a much stronger, more dangerous one.
Most designer drugs have psychedelic properties. Some are mixed with amphetamines. They’re deadly in high doses, because they affect more areas of the body than the psychedelics they mimic. LSD affects serotonin receptors, but it isn’t toxic. Not so with the designer drugs created to mimic LSD. They not only increase serotonin levels, but they also restrict blood vessels, increasing heart rate and body temperature to deadly heights. Because these drugs are untested, no one knows if other organs or systems in the body are affected as well.
Scary stuff! According to the DEA, there were 3200 calls to poison centers due to designer drugs in 2010. Just one year later, in 2011, that number skyrocketed to 13,000 calls. “Synthetic marijuana or Spice can be found in convenience stores labeled as K2, Scooby Snax, and Mr. Smiley,” according to Kelly Alfano and Steve Tierney for Fox News. “It’s marketed mostly to kids and teens in packages that sport customized images like the Joker, smiley faces, and even Scooby Doo. Many think Spice isn’t dangerous or illegal because it can be purchased in tobacco shops, convenience stores, and gas stations. Harmless herbs sprayed with deadly chemicals, the drug can leave patients comatose or in some cases, dead.”
David E. Nichols, Ph.D., a pharmacologist at Purdue University, is a leader in the research and development of psychedelics for medical use. “These newer so-called ‘legal’ highs, we really don’t know anything about them,” Nichols told Daniel J. DeNoon for WebMD. “People are playing a game of Russian roulette with these things. These are proliferating now. A lot of them came from my lab. We may have done one or two rat studies, but we know nothing about what these compounds do in humans.”
Why are medical researchers investigating the legitimate use of psychedelics? These drugs were traditionally taken for spiritual enlightenment. They also liberate emotions and events buried deep in the subconscious. Some in the medical community feel psychedelics can be beneficial for patients suffering from PTSD, as well as recovering addicts, offering them a path from brokenness to wholeness by helping them tap into these hidden regions of the subconscious.
But what’s happening on the street is very different. The web and social media have changed the playing field for designer drugs. Not only can you buy them legally on the web, but you can also obtain the raw ingredients to make them. These dangerous, untested, unregulated psychedelics are sold as party drugs, which is not at all the effect they produce. Most of the teens taking them are completely unprepared for what they are about to experience. Some survive it, and some don’t.
Florida Attorney General, Pam Bindi, has outlawed 127 compounds found in designer drugs. When she heard about deaths occurring from Spice, she sent two law enforcement agents to Tallahassee Mall to buy it legally. The agents took it to a lab to have it tested. Those chemists discovered it contained a deadly combination of synthetic heroin, LSD, and acid. Quickly, Bindi outlawed as many designer drug chemicals as she could in the state of Florida. She didn’t want kids coming there for spring break, staying in high rise hotels, and thinking they could fly.
Many rehabs now offer treatment programs for designer drug addictions. But it’s a tricky process. Most designer drugs don’t show up in the blood stream, so medical professionals have no way of knowing which chemicals are involved. Treatment begins by addressing the specific physical and mental symptoms of each patient.
Designer drugs are bad news. That’s a fact. At the moment, some are still sold in stores and on the web. Yet these drugs are far from safe. A package of designer drugs is not as innocent as the cartoon on the cover. It’s a smoking gun. Don’t become the next statistic at a poison control center. Your life is worth more than that.
Laura Stamps is the Staff Editor of “Stop Frying Your Brain,” a funky, informational, addiction/recovery website for Millennials. http://www.conversionmd.com