Changing Formulas Keep Synthetic Drug Use Up

synthetic drugs

They’re sold under names like “Ivory Wave” or “Vanilla Sky” and are distributed in brightly-colored packets. Until recently, synthetic drugs were sold legally in smoke shops and convenience stores all over the country. Despite Obama’s Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012, synthetic drug use continues to rise, and the effects are just as erratic as the drugs.

Ever-Changing Recipes

Drug chemists have found a way to alter formulas just enough to skirt the laws on synthetic drugs. There are so many varied combinations, it is possible to change just a few molecules and call it something else. There are sixty-three major ingredients used in the creation of these substances, and there is a major push for legislation to ban all of them. Whether this would truly stop synthetic drug use has yet to be seen, but it would certainly cut down on loud advertising targeted toward children.

With innocuous, even friendly-sounding names like “Smiles” and “Bliss”, these drugs are touted as safe and natural. Synthetic marijuana, for example, is pushed as a safer alternative to natural marijuana. The truth is that synthetic drugs are far more dangerous than their alternatives due to their unpredictable behavior.

Strange Side Effects

psychosis from taking synthetic drugs

Synthetic drugs are designed to mirror the highs of similar drugs such as cocaine, meth or marijuana, but they are made with toxic chemicals that affect the brain in dangerous ways. They can produce strange and unexplained violent behavior in the user. Not only that, the effects can go on for days, even weeks, without relief.

Take the case of Dickie Sanders, the twenty-one-year-old BMX rider whose personality was drastically changed by bath salts. Loved by all, no one would have ever thought he would take his own life. But so he did, after five days of insomnia, hallucinations, paranoia, and terrifying delusions. While cowering in the kitchen from what he thought was fifty police cars surrounding the house, he slit his throat and had to be rushed to the emergency room. That night, his father held him in his arms until he fell asleep, only to awake and find that Dickie had slipped out of bed and shot himself.

Another high-profile case was that of the “Miami zombie attack” in which a man allegedly high on bath salts attacked a homeless man, beating him unconscious and eating his face, rendering him blind. Even when officials arrived on the scene, the perpetrator did not stop the assault–he had to be shot several times before doing so.

Users report that they feel invincible, almost super-human. They can appear animalistic, as in the case of the Miami attacker who removed his clothes and growled viciously at the officers on the scene. They are often wrought with intense hallucinations and have no recollection of their actions afterward.

Under the Radar

The most difficult aspect of these substances is that they are nearly impossible to detect in standard drug tests. Therefore, officials are being trained to recognize the erratic behavior of synthetic drugs. Meanwhile, shop owners are being urged to keep the packages out of their stores and thoroughly research new products no matter how convincing the advertising.

More information on synthetic drugs


Sue Birkenshaw

Sue has worked in the addiction field with the Narconon network for three decades. She has developed and administered drug prevention programs worldwide and worked with numerous drug rehabilitation centers over the years. Sue is also a fine artist and painter, who enjoys traveling the world which continues to provide unlimited inspiration for her work. You can follow Sue on Twitter, or connect with her on LinkedIn.