When it comes to cocaine or heroin, it’s pretty easy to determine if someone has been using them. Their formulas are stable, they show up on any drug test, the symptoms of use are very well known. But when drugs are new and formulas are constantly shifting, there’s an additional factor of danger to their use. Doctors may not be able to test for these drugs if someone winds up in the emergency room, symptoms of overdose may not be recognized and the users themselves may be completely unaware of what hazards exist when they snort that powder or ingest that pill.
What’s more, when you are talking about synthetics like phenethylamines, you may have chemists altering the formula ever so slightly to change an old drug to a new one that may be able to escape law enforcement seizure. While this may work for the chemist and the dealer, it is endlessly dangerous for the user.
This is definitely the case with phenethylamines. This is class of drug with hallucinogenic, physical, mental and emotional effects. Their nature as strong stimulants means that they will increase heart rate, respiration, and blood pressure. Body temperature will go up and the person may become dehydrated if they do not take care to drink enough water. If the person doesn’t handle the drug well or they take too much, there is a possibility of a high fever, convulsions, and organ breakdown.
MDMA or Ecstasy is a well-known drug in this class of phenethylamines. It is popular at dance venues and music festivals as it gives one a feeling of artificial closeness to other people. Colors may be brighter, music and lighting may have a more profound effect, which is why it is used at nightclubs and why some venues hand out light sticks and synchronize their light shows to the music. But when too much of this drug is taken, a person can overheat, suffer paranoia or panic attacks, run high fevers and die from organ failure.
Most of these drugs are identified primarily by numbers and letters, such as
There’s also Bromo-DragonFLY, called so because the shape of the molecule resembles a dragonfly.
These drugs may be sold as loose powders, capsules or tablets or they may be sold as blotter paper squares impregnated with the drug. Some drug dealers may make the false claim that they are selling Ecstasy. The effects of these drugs may be slow to arrive, prompting a user to take more, which can result in an intentionally high dose being received. More dangerous adverse effects can be expected at higher dosages. Effects of these drugs may last eight to twelve hours.
These drugs may be sold as “research chemicals, not for human consumption.” Some of these drugs will be sold by their number-letter combinations and some will be labeled with brand names. For example 2C-T-7 may be labeled T-Seven, Lucky Seven, Seventh Heaven or Tripstacy.
Adverse Effects of Phenethylamines:
The effects vary by drug, but include:
- 2C-I - seizures, confusion, kidney failure, fatally high blood pressure
- 2B-B - confusion, cardiovascular disturbances, dehydration
- 2C-T - panic attacks, depression of the central nervous system, vomiting, delirium, loss of memory
- 2C-T-2 - paranoia, panic attacks, muscle rigidity, vomiting, anxiety
- 2C-T-7 - vomiting, headaches, confusion, delirium, high blood pressure, muscle spasms
One of the more dangerous effects of this type of drug is that the muscle rigidity it causes can actually be life-threatening. Muscles may go so rigid that they cannot uncontract. When this happens, the person’s temperature may go very high which can lead to convulsions and coma. Immediate and aggressive medical treatment is all that may save the drug user’s life at this point.
This list of drugs is far from stable. Reports of deaths resulting from a new derivative of 2C-I have just surfaced in Perth, Australia. This new drug is referred to as 25b-Nbome.
These drugs are the brainchildren of Alexander Shulgin, a research chemist in California who developed some of the formulas, worked out more efficient methods of synthesis (particularly for MDMA/Ecstasy) and documented the effects of others by trying them out on himself and his friends. He has been credited with popularizing the use of these drugs and many others, including mescaline. His publications contain detailed chemical descriptions of these drugs and have been reported to be present in clandestine labs that were raided by law enforcement.