05 Jan What You Need to Know About Synthetic Designer Drugs

“Designer” is a term used to describe a wide variety of drugs that are produced in labs using synthetic chemicals. Many of these drugs fall under the party drug heading, like MDMA (ecstasy, Molly), or Ketamine (Special K). Another area of designer drugs are those that are meant to mimic the effects of other drugs like meth, cocaine or marijuana. These imposter drugs can be found easily online, or even at local gas station counters. Teens view synthetic designer drugs as less harmful than the “real” substances, but the opposite is actually true.

Increased Risk

There are several reasons why synthetic designer drugs are often more risky to use than the substances they are designed to mimic. First off, the ingredient list for these substances is ever-changing, so you can’t be sure what you’re taking with each dose. Manufacturers are constantly altering the formula to avoid legal problems with the FDA, so it’s impossible to know what each dose is really made of. Most synthetic drugs are made from dried leaves or corn starch, laced with dangerous chemicals. Oftentimes, the synthetic drug is actually more concentrated and powerful than the original, so its side effects are more extreme. For instance, the mild paranoia that is sometimes associated with marijuana use is exacerbated to psychotic levels with its synthetic counterpart, spice.

Symptoms of Use

The powerful high that teens who use synthetic drugs are seeking is not the only thing they get with each dose. Dangerous side effects range from dehydration to death. Because it’s impossible to accurately measure dosage, users are risking an overdose and other dangerous side effects each time they use. Some of the harmful symptoms of synthetic designer drug use include :

Violent agitation
Increased sweating
Loss of control
Pale skin
Decreased motor function
Heart palpitations
Cessation of breathing

Communication is Key

Recent studies have shown that teen drug use is actually declining, as more and more teens are educated on the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol. The problem with synthetic designer drugs is that they are marketed in a way that leads teens to believe that they are less harmful than other types of drugs. Talking to your kids about the specific dangers of synthetic designer drugs is a key prevention factor. Be clear with them that, even though these drugs may be easy to obtain, they are just as harmful, if not more so, as the drugs they are meant to mimic.

Arden Smith is an Advanced Substance Use Disorder Counselor with more than 17 years in the addiction and mental health treatment industry. He has a great passion for this field and a strong desire to help people suffering with the disease of addiction and their family members. As part of his experience in this field, he has worked in secure-care, residential, and out-patient environments with both the adolescent and adult populations. Arden has an MBA in Healthcare Management. He has spent the last several years in administrative and management positions including residential director and director of programs ranging from severe psychiatric and mental health facilities to substance abuse treatment facilities. He also served as the chair of the residential best practice committee of a large corporation and helped develop and implement best practice standards for several residential programs.

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