Synthetic Drug Information

synthetic drug flakka

In this new millennium, one of the worst developments in drug abuse and addiction is the addition of synthetic drugs to the list of commonly abused substances. At first, these drugs were able to be grouped under the heading of “club drugs”. But now there are so many and they extend far beyond club or dance venues that this grouping no longer applies.

In the 1960s, d-lysergic acid diethylamide or LSD became popular. It was soon followed by phencyclidine or PCP. In the 1980s, use of Ecstasy or MDMA (3, 4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine) began to spread. These drugs just constituted the leading edge of the scores of synthetic drugs that would arrive in a few more years.

The New Synthetics


In some cases, the new synthetics that arrived on the scene started their popularity in Germany or the UK and then made their way to America. Many of these drugs were developed decades before but then may not have fulfilled specific requirements as treatments for medical conditions, so were shelved. Some person who realized that a drug might have an “interesting” and sellable mental effect then began to produce the chemical and sell it as a drug of abuse. This had to be done without consideration for the potential harm. And many of these new synthetics are incredibly harmful.

There are literally more than a hundred drugs that could be included in a list of new synthetics.

Here’s a short list of these synthetic drugs:

  • 4-methylmethcathinone (Mephedrone)
  • 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV).
  • 2-(2,5-Dimethoxy-4-ethylphenyl)ethanamine (2C–E)
  • 2-(4-Iodo-2,5-dimethoxyphenyl)ethanamine (2C–I)
  • dimethoxyphenyl]ethanamine (2C–T–2)
  • propylphenyl)ethanamine (2C–P)
  • 1-butyl-3-(1-naphthoyl)indole (JWH–073)
  • 1-hexyl-3-(1-naphthoyl)indole (JWH–019)

Some of these drugs are referred to as “cannabimimetic” which means that they mimic the actions of cannabinoids, or drugs that have a chemical effect like that of marijuana. In this list are included some chemicals that are being sold as synthetic marijuana and others that may make up the drug referred to as “bath salts”.

It might also be relevant to include some synthetic prescription drugs (for humans or animals) that have been abused for similar purposes, such as BZP (benzylpiperazine), GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate) and ketamine.

Law Enforcement Struggles to Keep Up

With the rapid growth in the number of drugs on this list, it is no wonder that law enforcement can’t keep up. New laws are issued at a federal level that may list many of these drugs but there could be a dozen new drugs on the market in a week. There are “Analog Laws” on the books that state that any substance that acts in a way analogous to illegal drugs are themselves illegal, but these laws may not be able to be enforced in every area. And many states have passed laws outlawing some of these substances and not others. The complexity of trying to keep damaging substances banned across the US is increasing continually.

Drug tests also can’t be updated fast enough to keep up. One drug testing company came up with a test that shows the presence of 14 drugs that may be found in “bath salts” or similar drugs, but there are dozens of others that may not be able to be detected by any current test.

The Dangerous Effects of Synthetics

There are so many drugs of so many different types on this list that the list of possible dangers is wide and varied. One measure of the danger is the number of calls to National Poison Control Centers. In 2011, just one class of synthetic drugs generated more than 6,000 calls to these centers.

News sources carry many stories relating serious harm resulting from the abuse of bath salts, synthetic marijuana (often called Spice) or other synthetics. Such as the man in Louisiana who bit a chunk off his neighbor’s face during a dispute. And the naked man in Illinois who, on June 15, 2012, grabbed a man’s car hood and rode it for four miles until the driver could have police meet him. In Albuquerque, a Spice-abusing man tried to kill his own father with a knife in 2012.

Synthetic marijuana may result in seizures, difficulty breathing, vomiting and long-lasting mental disturbances. As this drug became popular in 2009-2010, emergency room visits increased from 13 in 2009 to 560 in the first half of 2010. Poison Control Center calls numbered just under 7,000 in 2011.

bath salts

Bath salts may result in hallucinations, paranoia, aggressive behavior or homicidal or suicidal tendencies.

This is a trend that shows no signs of slowing, making it far more important than ever before that young people are educated on the harm that can come from abusing drugs. Narconon centers around the world not only provide rehabilitation after addiction but also drug education and prevention services. Each year, hundreds of thousands of young people are reached with the message that happiness and safety result from sobriety. The Narconon drug education curriculum has shown to result in lower substance abuse statistics among the young people receiving these classes.

And in some forty locations internationally, Narconon rehab centers help people come back from the abuse of these seriously damaging synthetics. Find out how you can help someone who has been addicted to one of these drugs.


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