Synthetic Drugs

Synthetic Drugs


It has become more difficult as  parents to be aware of all the substances that can be abused by youth.  Most of these new substances are an attempt to sidestep traditional drug testing techniques so that even if these substances are tested for, they cannot be detected.  These new substances are often sold as “legitimate” products.

Two that appear to be on the radar and have caused intense emotional and physical reactions are “bath salts” and “synthetic marijuana” (spice, K2).

Synthetic stimulants that are marketed as “bath salts” are often found in a number of retail products.  They are chemicals which are synthetic derivatives of cathinone, a central nervous system stimulant.  Many of these products are sold over the Internet, in convenience stores, and in “head” shops. 

Bath salt stimulant products are sold in powder form in small plastic or foil packages under various brand names.  Mephedron is a fine white, off-white, or slightly yellow-colored powder.  It can also be found in tablet or capsule form.  Bath salts are usually ingested by sniffing/snorting.  They can also be taken orally, smoked, or put into a solution and injected into veins. Young people are using the white-powder as fake cocaine and many of them are ending up in emergency rooms and mental hospitals.

People who abuse these substances have reported agitation, insomnia, irritability, dizziness, depression, paranoia, delusions, suicidal thoughts, seizures, and panic attacks.  Users have also reported effects including impaired perception of reality, reduced motor control, and decreased ability to think clearly.  Cathinone derivatives act as central nervous system stimulants causing rapid heart rate (which may lead to heart attacks and stroke), chest pains, nosebleeds, sweating, nausea, and vomiting.

Spice, K2 and several other products are a type of synthetic marijuana.  The drug consists of plant material coated with synthetic chemicals meant to produce a high similar to marijuana.  It is a toxic chemical that can be sprayed onto anything that burns.  According to research presented at the American Psychiatric Association meeting, Spice can cause a lengthy bout of psychosis in some users.  Symptoms include auditory and visual hallucinations, paranoid delusions, and thoughts of suicide.

There are also resources available online at

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