Over the course of the past several years, an increasing variety of synthetic drugs have become readily available to the general American public. The most common synthetic drugs on the market today are synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic cathinones (related to amphetamines). Both drugs can be purchased in legal retail outlets, frequently under guises such as “herbal incense” or “jewelry cleaner”. While only 2 varieties of synthetic cannabinoid were identified in 2009, that number jumped to a staggering 51 in 2012. In fact, synthetic drugs have rapidly become one of the biggest substance-related issues the nation as a whole currently faces. In 2012, 1 in 9 12th graders reported using synthetic marijuana in the past year, making it the 2nd most frequently abused drug amongst high school seniors after marijuana. Overall, synthetic drug use is far more prevalent amongst the younger portion of the population, and has proven to be a highly dangerous, often lethal trend.
Known on the streets as “K2” or “Spice”, synthetic cannabinoids are marketed as a safe and legal alternative to marijuana. Chemical additives are combined with dried plant material, and said to produce a high similar to the high produced by THC (the main mind-altering chemical in marijuana). In fact, “Spice” is far more dangerous to consume, and has been linked to innumerable emergency room admittances and several deaths – while marijuana has been linked to no deaths and very few emergency room visits over the course of past decades. This drug is made with designer chemicals that are said to induce paranoia, anxiety, and hallucinations. Those who frequently use synthetic cannabinoids claim they are highly addicting, and the consequences of using DRASTICALLY outweigh the benefits (of which there truly seem to be none).
The side effects of prolonged (and even short-term) bath salt use are typically very similar to the effects produced by synthetic marijuana. Bath salts are sold as “jewelry cleaner” or “plant food”, and usually marked with a label reading “not for human consumption”. The exact chemical ingredients of the drug remain unknown, thus it is hard for the DEA to illegalize its compounds. The most common symptoms linked to the drug are hallucinations, paranoia, and suicidal thoughts and tendencies. There have been several highly publicized suicides completed by individuals within days of using bath salts, proving that mental distress can last beyond the wearing off of the hallucinogenic effects of the drug. It is unknown whether or not bath salts are addictive, though it is speculated that they are.
Designer synthetic drugs pose a major threat to society based on their highly toxic nature and their ready availability. Synthetic drugs have quickly proven far more dangerous than their imitated alternatives. If you or someone you love is battling an addiction to spice, bath salts, or any other variety of designer drug, seek help as quickly as possible – soon, it may be too late.