“There is now yet another addition to the ever-elongating list of recreational drugs, although worryingly these are more easily available than most. Although still relatively new in concept, synthetic drugs are increasing in popularity.”
The New Era of Synthetic Drugs
Despite the widely publicized revelations regarding the damage recreational drugs can cause, many people still take street-drugs frequently. However, due to the illegality of these substances, they must be claimed through illicit means – and meeting potentially dangerous drug dealers (although of course this is not the only way to obtain the drugs) it is enough to cause many people to reconsider. So imagine if an alternative were to be introduced, one whereby an individual can buy some ‘bath salts’ or ‘incense’ as though they were just restocking their bathroom cabinet. Sadly, there is no need to imagine, as the most popular synthetic drugs can be purchased from ‘head shops’, or can be ordered online and delivered straight to the user’s door. Not only that, but they’re affordable too – people can get most ‘legal highs’ for way under fifty dollars.
What Are Synthetic Drugs?
Synthetic drugs – also known as ‘designer drugs – are derived in numerous ways. Synthetic marijuana (commonly known as Spice) is created from plant material laced with synthetic chemicals that are said to create similar effects to the real deal, whilst bath salts contain man-made chemicals similar to amphetamines. Therefore, users can gain the same experience as they would by taking street-drugs, without the risk of showing positive on drug tests.
So whilst it has been established that these designer drugs can definitely be regarded as an alternative to street-drugs, they can definitely not be seen as a ‘safe’ alternative. However, due to the confusion with the legality and relatively widespread availability of these drugs, there are common misconceptions that these synthetic drugs are in fact harmless. It must be clarified that these drugs are only available from herbal stores as a result of a marketing ploy – many are packaged with labels that claim they are ‘not for human consumption – in a bid to avoid uproar from authorities.
Clearly, by creating the same effects of genuine recreational drugs, these synthetic drugs behold the same dangers with regards to accidents occurring due to the state of mind users find themselves in. Accidental deaths and injuries resulting from thoughtless behavior that is only carried out due to the drug-addled brains of those who choose to use these drugs are not uncommon.
Additionally, the belief that synthetic drugs can have a negative long term impact on health is supported by strong research evidence. Synthetic cannabis has been considered accountable for sixteen cases of otherwise inexplicable kidney failure, according to a report from the U.S Centers for Disease Control. Other effects of synthetic marijuana include increased blood pressure, hallucinations, nausea, tachycardia and seizures. Users of bath salts can also suffer from a number of these adverse effects.
Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act
Events such as the tragic apparent suicide of Iowan teenager David Rozga – a user of synthetic cannabis – in 2010 caused the reality of the dangers of synthetic drugs to be revealed on an international scale. Following this, President Obama passed the law of the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act in 2012. This act bans synthetic compounds commonly associated with these designer drugs, highlighting the dangers of these substances. However, other synthetic compounds still find their way into the market.
‘Synthetic’ Does Not Mean ‘Safe’.
The use of the word ‘synthetic’ paves the way for naive users to believe they can gain the experience they would taking ‘real’ cannabis or LSD without suffering the dangerous consequences. But evidently this is not the case, as the adverse effects of these designer substances are just as ‘real’ as any other recreational drugs, and it is clear to see that the word ‘synthetic’ does not equate to ‘safe’ by any means.
Whilst measures are being taken to limit the use of these dangerous drugs, those whom still purchase them need to be made aware that synthetic drugs are categorically not a safe alternative to street-drugs, and whilst they may not show positive on a drugs test (although tests for synthetic substances are now available) it does not mean they escape the potential risks to their health and safety.
About the author: This post was written by Stanley Martinson. Stanley is a health and wellness writer who has a deep interest in drug and alcohol rehabilitation. For more information click here.