Understanding synthetic drugs and their harmful effects can help prevent people from abusing them. Most people are familiar, to some degree, with the names and side-effects of common drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, etc., but are far less familiar with synthetic drugs, sometimes referred to as designer drugs or designer substances.
These drugs are extremely dangerous, yet despite their danger, they are accessible to both adults and children. In fact, children often turn to synthetic drugs because of their availability, and their packaging is often innocent and misleading in appearance. In addition to children, synthetic drug use has even surfaced in the military. It is important that people understand synthetic drugs and their harmful effects to prevent themselves or others from using them.
What Are Synthetic Drugs?
Synthetic drugs are man-made drugs that are chemical-based versus plant-based. Certain types of synthetic drugs are sprayed onto plant material prior to being sold. When used, the effects of synthetic drugs typically mimic their natural counterparts. These drugs are often available for sale through legal venues and can be easily accessible to children. Outlets include places such as gas stations, tobacco shops, over the Internet, and even convenience stores. Because they are easy to access, they are popular and give people a false sense that they are safe to use. In addition, they are typically not detectable during drug testing, which also lends to their popularity.
- CNN: What You Need to Know About Synthetic Drugs
- Synthetic Drugs Facts (PDF)
- Synthetic Drugs a Real Danger
- Synthetic Drugs FAQ (PDF)
Types of Synthetic Drugs
Synthetic drugs are broken into two types or categories: cathinones and cannabinoids. Cathinones are synthetic chemicals that are related to a stimulant that is like an amphetamine and found in the khat plant. Popular synthetic cathinones include “bath salts” and “jewelry cleaner.” Despite their names, they are not innocent products and should not be used as such. They are given these names due to their appearance and to avoid notice from authorities. Mephedrone, methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), and methylone are often found in these products.
Annabinoids are synthetic chemicals that are commonly known by the names “spice,” “synthetic marijuana,” “fake weed,” “skunk,” and “K2,” to name a few. Cannabinoids are sprayed on plants for use and may even be sprayed on potpourri. Cannabinoids are often labeled “not for human consumption” when they are sold in public places such as gas stations. These are often also touted as being legal and safe, making them a draw for kids.