New Dangers of Designer Drugs

opioid addictionWe usually think of new designer drugs as belonging to the the club drug class. However, as cannabis moves into a more mainstream view, it’s becoming adulterated by synthetic cannabis, which can cause overdose. Overdose on natural weed is rare. Overdoses on synthetic was so common and harmful it was banned. One of the common side effects of OD on man-made pot is a kind of waking catatonia so severe people liken it to being a zombie. The drug contaminant, in this case, is called AMB-FUBINACA. Unlike many drug additives, AMB was developed by a legitimate company. AMB was never marketed due to its unpredictable effects. Many of these drugs come from labs overseas. They’re cheap to make and easy to distribute.

Additives to real pot “products” that are called synthetic marijuana are misleading, in that the name conveys a kind of low threat. Most people don’t OD on real weed. A natural cannabis overdose is just not likely. However, synthetic weed often isn’t weed at all. It’s often staggeringly more powerful than THC, sometimes over fifty times as powerful. This can lead to a powerful high, but it’s due to the adulterants. One derivative, K2, was placed on the DEA’s Schedule I due to its ability to cause dangerous, lasting side effects and its lack of any demonstrated beneficial use.

A user under the influence of one of the newer designer drugs exhibits some pretty scary behavior: irregular, random movements, limbs thrashing, and an overall trance-like condition. Designer opioids are becoming much more common in all street drugs, such as Pink, which has killed over 40 people in the last 12 months. At issue is knowledge.  A person who buys from a dealer they trust isn’t being safe at all. The dealer can’t trust the suppliers, the suppliers can’t trust the makers that the drug sold is the drug advertised.  The end user ends up on the receiving end of a drug thousands of times more potent than any opioid, or a cannabis product laced with a dangerous psychoactive that puts the user at great risk for self harm.

There are a few takeaways here.  First, the drugs on the street aren’t what they used to be.  Even simple cannabis may be contaminated with powerful psychoactives. Opioids, whether in pill form or injectables, are also becoming mixed with staggeringly powerful synthetic opioids that are sold without regard of any sort to “customer” health. The goal is to get the buyer more rapidly addicted.  Second, we have to be aware that the drug deaths sweeping the nation are not part and parcel of the sad story of addiction. Things are becoming more challenging, the drugs are becoming more dangerous, and more education is needed.