There are certain drugs with classifications that make them legal and/or approved for medical use. Opioids are used in prescription medication and, in some states, medical marijuana would fall under this umbrella. Regardless of their legal status, the Drug Enforcement Administration still schedules these substances according to their potential for abuse and warns people of the risks of even short-term use.
Certain substances, however, are not approved for medical use and the sale of these drugs is illegal as a result — heroin, cannabinoids, MDMA, cocaine and LSD are just a few of them.
Going even further, there is a classification of drugs that evade regulations as a result of their experimental nature — known as designer drugs, these substances are created to mimic well-known drugs while avoiding legal ramifications.
What to know about designer drugs
Designer drugs are, in fact, not inherently illegal because they are designed with the specific intention of avoiding any and all legal qualifications. Nor are they designed with any medical purposes in mind. They’re crafted purely for recreational use, but with little consideration for the health risks they impose.
Designer drugs are made in labs
Some drugs, like marijuana and opioids, are actually naturally occurring substances — marijuana itself is a plant and opioids are crafted from the opium poppy plant.
Other drugs, however, including designer drugs, are made in illegal labs by using chemistry to change the properties of natural plants or even other drugs. For example, designer drugs are chemically manipulated to mimic the effects of certain drugs — like heroin — without possessing the same chemical makeup as heroin (and therefore escaping the laws regulating drugs like heroin).
This presents even more risks than many natural drugs since designer drugs can often be unpredictable in terms of their chemical makeup and potency. Designer drugs can also be laced with other substances — for example, MDMA may also contain ketamine. This presents a significantly increased risk of overdose.
They’re commonly found in the party scene
Since they produce feelings of euphoria or psychological and physical stimulation, many designer drugs are popular in party and festival scenes. Some of the most common drugs found in these environments include:
- MDMA – Popular in clubs, this drug can give users a euphoric feeling while heightening one’s sensitivity to the effects of lights and music. MDMA is often referred to as “ecstasy” or “molly”
- Methamphetamines – Often referred to as “speed” or “crank,” Methamphetamine increases one’s endurance and stamina, while also serving as an aphrodisiac. Users feel as though they can continue staying active for longer periods of time
- Ketamine – Commonly known as “Special K,” this drug acts as a sedative or gives a user an intense hallucinatory experience
- Mephedrone – Although it has a reputation for being a “safer” alternative to other designer drugs, this synthetic stimulant is designed to give a user euphoric feelings, but can inhibit a person’s decision-making abilities, often leading them to try more dangerous drugs
- LSD – This synthetic hallucinogen aims to greatly distort a user’s perception and causes intense hallucinations. Since a user is often not able to tell reality from LSD’s effects when under the influence, they can find themselves in very dangerous situations
- Bath salts – With an appearance almost identical to real bath salts, these synthetic drugs are manufactured to mimic the effects of cocaine or methamphetamine, with nasty side effects including panic attacks, paranoia and reckless decision-making
Because of the way these drugs impact one’s sensory experiences (often enhancing the experience of light and music), in addition to increasing one’s empathetic feelings towards others, it’s not uncommon for them to be found at raves, clubs and concerts.
They are not regulated
The chemists who craft these drugs are constantly working to stay one step ahead of regulations in order to avoid legal ramifications. For this reason, one batch of bath salts, for example, can differ substantially from the next batch even if made by the same manufacturer; and this can have equally substantial effects on the body and brain of users.
Additionally, the labeling of the products, including the ever-false “Not for human consumption” labels commonly found on these products, further confuse their legality.
And lastly, because they’re unregulated, there are few limitations on what goes into making these drugs. You are never guaranteed to know exactly what you’re receiving, nor have a concrete knowledge of the potential side effects.
They have dangerous side effects
While each designer drug can have different initial effects on those who are using them, there are specific short-term and long-term effects on users as well.
Short-term effects can include:
- Elevated body temperature
- Abnormal or increased heartbeat
- Chills or profuse sweating
Long-term effects can include:
- Mood disturbances
- Respiratory issues
- Vascular collapse
Unfortunately, because of the nature of designer drugs, it’s hard to know exactly what side effects will occur with each use even if you’ve engaged with the same substance before.
Combatting designer drug use
Because of the confusing legal status of designer drugs, it’s difficult to combat the usage of these drugs on a legal level. It is possible, however, to speak about their impact on a personal level and educate users about the numerous physical and mental risks associated with consumption.
If you or someone you know struggles with designer drug use, help is available. Reach out to Silvermist Recovery today to get in touch with a therapist or to learn more about personalized addiction treatment. Contact us online anytime or by calling 724-268-4858.