New Years is almost upon us, which means saying goodbye to 2018. It means taking stock of the year. It means learning from the past and looking towards the future, towards the hope of a better year before us. The war on the drug crisis wages on. Here, we take a closer analysis of designer drug use in 2018, to get us better armed for 2019. The United States is in the midst of a serious drug epidemic. Synthetic drugs, known as “designer drugs”, are a significant part of the problem. These substances are specifically created to simulate the qualities of drugs like marijuana, fentanyl, heroin, and cocaine. They can be significantly more dangerous than the drugs they emulate. For example, various forms of synthetic marijuana have been linked to cases of internal bleeding and death. Designer drugs are often created to get around technicalities in drug laws so they can be easily sold online. While regulatory measures have been taken in many cases, they cannot always keep up with manufacturers finding new ways to alter and produce these dangerous substances.
Synthetic Marijuana’s Popularity and Danger
K2, also known as “spice”, is a popular designer drug that mimics THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana. In 2013, it was found to be the second-most used illicit drug after marijuana among 10th graders, demonstrating its popularity and ease of access among young people. Its effect on the brain’s cannabinoid receptors can be hundreds of times stronger than that produced by regular marijuana. This extreme potency, combined with the fact that anyone making the substance can add anything they want to it, accounts for synthetic marijuana’s great risk to users. It has proven to be deadly, with 2 deaths and 54 cases of severe bleeding tied to its use in Illinois earlier this year. Recently, over 70 overdoses were attributed to the drug in New Haven, Connecticut, and 25 overdoses in Brooklyn, New York in May.
Fentanyl Imitated With Deadly Results
Another dangerous trend in designer drugs is the increased presence of drugs emulating fentanyl and similar synthetic opioids, a class of drugs which is now the leading cause of overdose deaths in the nation’s opioid crisis. Fentanyl’s synthetic analogs are some of the most dangerous designer drugs out there, with deadly overdoses on them doubling between the latter half of 2016 and the first half of 2017.
One such fentanyl derivative, known as acrylfentanyl, was responsible for at least 44 deaths in Chicago alone last year. Even more troubling is the fact that acrylfentanyl is resistant to overdose antidotes and was technically legal to purchase online at the time. Even deadlier combinations of fentanyl and other drugs have appeared. “Gray Death,” a combination of fentanyl with synthetic opioids and heroin, is just one example.
More Designer Drugs and Difficulties in Fighting Them
K2 and fentanyl analogs are just a few examples of designer drugs that are devastating communities in the United States. Flakka, another designer drug similar to bath salts, is often responsible for erratic, dangerous behavior and has been linked to numerous deaths. Other popular designer drugs include Ketamine, Rohypnol, and 2C. Steps are being taken to combat designer drugs, with researchers working to identify and predict which kinds of drugs are appearing and becoming more popular. Federal agents have found it difficult to fight synthetic opioids and similar designer drugs, however, due to many users purchasing them online and smuggling them into the U.S. in small amounts. 10 For now, designer drugs appear to be a serious threat for the foreseeable future.
Treatment for Designer Drug Addiction
Designer drugs are some of the most unpredictable and dangerous substances out there. If you or a loved one are affected by designer drug abuse, or substance abuse in general, Granite Recovery Centers can help. We specialize in treating substance abuse disorders with professional, compassionate care. Give us a call at 855.712.7784.