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Synthetic Street Drugs

The Rise and Threat of Synthetic Street Drugs

It wasn’t long ago that drugs like cocaine, crack and heroin were the most dangerous narcotics available in America. But as times have changed, so have available drugs of choice. The 21st century has given birth to an era dominated by a plethora of synthetic drugs, creating a different and much more dangerous risk. A synthetic drug is a non-organic, chemically synthesized substance created to mimic the effects of a known drug.

illustration of eleven EMS ambulances showing ten of them with synthetic drugs on their sides and one additional EMS vehicle with normal markings

Whereas abusing opioids, marijuana, prescription drugs, hallucinogens and stimulants always presented horrifying consequences, it’s the threat of the unknown that puts synthetic drugs in a different category. Reports of users turning into “flesh-eating zombies” or experiencing extreme paranoia or alarming psychosis are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to synthetic drug abuse.Individuals who use and abuse synthetic drugs like Spice, bath salts, Smiles or fentanyl are putting unknown doses and ingredients into their bodies. These ingredients can include gasoline, paint thinner, cough syrup, iodine, hydrochloric acid and much, much more. This is what has led to an explosion in emergency room visits and drug overdoses in several areas around the nation. In Washington D.C. in 2015, the EMS received 10 times more calls related to synthetic drug abuse than it did heart attacks.

Chasing a New and Legal High

illustration shwoing four separate images side by side of local gas stations, head shops, convenience stores and the Internet

With all of the news about the unpredictable effects of synthetic drug use, one would think that people would try to stay away from synthetic cannabinoids, cathinones, hallucinogens and opioids. Unfortunately, many abusers are motivated by experiencing a different high, while others hope to take advantage of marketed “legal highs” and the easy access.

Rather than attempting to obtain illicit drugs from street dealers, many drug users prefer to obtain synthetic drugs from local gas stations, head shops, convenience stores and the Internet. Experimenting with these drugs is made even more enticing by the fact that they will not cause a positive drug test in most instances.The side-effects of many of these synthetic or designer drugs alone is enough for concern. When you add in the fact that the drugs are produced in illegal, makeshift home laboratories, the potential danger in using them is incredibly high. These drugs are addictive, dangerous and readily available throughout many neighborhoods in the U.S.

 

Synthetic Opioids

While prescription opioids and heroin have left a trail of destruction in the U.S. over the last 15 years, synthetic opioids like fentanyl, W-18 and krokodil have emerged as even greater threats. Just how scared should we all be of this new wave of synthetic opioids?

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Synthetic Cannabinoids

Synthetic marijuana products like Spice and K2 have been ravaging America’s youth for years, and they can still be found in many gas stations and convenience stores near you. The problem has only worsened since synthetic cannabinoids hit the market around 2009.

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Synthetic Cathinones

Synthetic cathinones, although perfectly legal and often available at the corner store, can do lethal damage to the central nervous system. Mirroring the effects of other illegal drugs but obtained at lower costs, these drugs are wreaking havoc in communities across the country.

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Synthetic Hallucinogens

Synthetic hallucinogens provide legal but dangerous ways to distort an individual’s perception of reality. Although feelings of panic and fear often accompany their use, these drugs continue to rise in popularity due to easy accessibility and ability to elude detection by standard drug screenings.

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