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The Increasing Trend of New Psychoactive Substances

The Increasing Popularity of Synthetic Drugs

Author: Shernide Delva

With Marijuana Reform policies stirring controversy throughout the country, soon the idea of legal recreational drug usage could become a reality in the United States.

In the meantime, however, many are finding ways to use drugs without the fear of criminalization by synthetic alternatives and they are gaining immense popularity.  New Psychoactive Substances are being created and marketed to those desperate to obtain a “legal high.”

In recent years, stories about synthetic drugs such as bath salts and Flacka gained national attention and caused media panic. Most of us have heard of the infamous face-eating episode involving bath salts that was later debunked.

Still, new psychoactive substances continue to enter the drug markets that mimic the effects of illegal drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and Methamphetamines (Ecstasy).  Even as States and Congress work rapidly on policies to combat these new drugs, newer alternatives get made that replace the old ones.

It’s a rat race involving chemists and manufactures rushing to replace banned drugs with new variations that politicians struggle to keep up with.

New Psychoactive Substances

Before we go further, we should define what is meant when discussing these “new psychoactive substances” in the first place. More commonly known as synthetic drugs, New Psychoactive Substances is the current terminology used to define any “range of drugs that have been designed to mimic established illicit drugs, such as cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and LSD.”

The Drug Policy Association arranged a conference call with Earth Erowid, one of the founders of the popular drug website, and he elaborated on the change of terminology.

“Synthetic drugs are a term used to imply scary new street drugs,” said Earth Erowid. “But nearly all pharmaceutical drugs are synthetic, whether they’re cannabinoids, opioids, stimulants, or sedatives. You don’t want to use the phrase ‘synthetic drugs’ unless you’re talking about every pharmaceutical developed over the past 50 years.”

“A more accurate and appropriate term is “new psychoactive substances,” he said.  “That’s the standard term in Europe.”

These new psychoactive substances can be grouped into general categories based on the drugs that they attempt to replicate.

Five Most Common New Psychoactive Substances

These are the five most common categories of legal drug alternatives currently being distributed today.  As these drugs gain popularity, the health implications of using these drugs is a major concern since ironically there is often less research done on these legal substances than there is on the illegal drugs they are substituting.

1.  Replacement Cannabinoids

Often sold in powder form; these are sprinkled on herbal blends. One variety known as Spice resembles potpourri and is sold in shops as incense. Products like Spice contain dried, shredded plant material and chemical additives that are responsible for their psychoactive effects. They are not cannabis but are synthetic cannabinoid agonists that work by targeting the same cannabinoid receptors those chemicals in marijuana target resulting in similar relaxing anxiety reducing effects.

In the past, the ingredients in Spice were modified to keep up with laws banning chemicals in their product that produce those cannabis effects.  Some specific compounds include JWH 018 and AB-PINACA, among many others. Often assumed as “natural,” not enough research has been conducted to prove these drugs are safe and several have been associated with death and serious medical complications.

2.  Replacement Euphoric Stimulants

These include cathinones like methadone, MDPV (“bath salts”), and Alpha PDP (“flakka”), as well as compounds related to Ritalin. Flakka has gained huge popularity in Florida and has been dubbed “$5 insanity” because of the low cost to obtain it. It is synthesized legally in Chinese labs and can be delivered right to your doorstep. Unfortunately, flacka has been linked to a stream of bizarre crimes and has gained media attention. Clearly the health risks of flacka is questionable.

Many replacement euphoric stimulants are marketed to young teens and adults active in the rave and EDM communities who desperately desire the effects of ecstasy without the use of illegal drugs.  These forms of legal ecstasy contain various herbs or herbal extracts that are psychoactive. They claim to have similar effects to Ecstasy however none of these substances have been proven to be safe. Side effects for these drugs include racing heart, dry throat, anxiety, tremor and cold extremities.

3.  Replacement Psychedelics

Often those who think they are buying illegal LSD are actually getting this legal substitute. Best known are the NBOMe series (aka “N-Bomb”). The drug was introduced in 2003 by chemist Ralf Heim at the Free University of Berlin and since has continued to climb in popularity.

Batches of these drugs are bought from China by dealers over the internet. They are than cut with alcohol or some other liquid and put on blotter paper where they are sold to young people who continue to increase the use of the drug through word-of-mouth. Some studies warn these drugs are more dangerous than LSD and the NBOMe class has been linked to about 20 deaths.

4. Replacement Dissociatives

These are PCP-like chemicals, including various ketamine variants and methoxetamine. Ketamine is an anesthetic often used in hospitals as a pain killer and bronchodilator. Often ketamine can cause hallucinations causing a person to feel detached from the world around them.

5. Replacement Opioids

These include chemicals such as AH 7921 and U4770.

Kratom is a drug gaining immense popularity and is being ordered online and through local herbal shops.  Kratom tropical deciduous and evergreen tree in the coffee family that has mood-lifting properties however with heavy usage can cause hallucinations and psychosis. The reactions to the drug vary dramatically and little is known about the dangers of using the drug long term.  Palm Beach County has considered banning the substance however Kratum is still very legal in most of the United States. For now, the DEA lists Kratum as a “drug of concern” due to its abuse potential. Many countries like Thailand have banned the use of Kratum.

Overall, these “legal substitutes” seem to be risky alternatives and because they are legal, many assume that they are “safer” or more “natural” compared to the illegal drugs they are substituting. New policies continue to be implemented that ban these new psychoactive substances and it will continue get harder to have access to these drugs. Safety should always be the number one concern and just because these drugs are legal does not mean they are safe. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 

Fatal Flakka Being Hidden in Children’s Candy

Fatal Flakka Being Hidden in Children’s Candy

Author: Justin Mckibben

Flakka, the streets infamous ‘$5 Insanity’, has transformed the face of fear in drug abuse recently by corrupting minds and demoralizing communities all over the nation. Infecting people with intense hallucinations and hypertension often described as a treacherous drug-induced psychosis, Flakka has been linked to aggressive and violent incidents involving self-harm and vicious attacks, even resulting in murder or death.

How could it get any worse?

Easy… introducing Flakka for kids!

Miami-Dade Police are now calling in reports that the brutal and fatal synthetic Flakka is now being manufactured to look like children’s candy.

Evil in Disguise

During a narcotics bust police authorities initially reported the discovery of what appeared to be candy in a zip lock bag, but upon further investigation of the sugary substance it was determined the candy was laced with a synthetic drug with a composition closely compared to Flakka or Bath Salts, both infamously credited to strange and appalling crimes.

The synthetic chemical discovered is a crystal-like drug known to be cheap, addictive, and deadly. When used this evil is disguise can be ingested in various ways, including:

  • Swallowed
  • Smoked
  • Injected

Narcotics detectives involved in the investigation have stated in this case the drug was used to imitate the sugar-coating of the candy, looking almost identical to the name-brand gummy candies you can find at any grocery store or gas station. What gave it away was they were stickier in texture and individually wrapped in the bag.

The sick dealers behind disguising these lethal drugs as sugary sweets crushed up the crystalized chemicals, then rolled sticky candy in the powder to make a product practically identical to the commercial counterpart, which has police clamoring to take action against such an deceptive and despicable tactic.

Detective Daniel Ferrin with Miami-Dade Police issued a statement in which he said,

“It’s always a cat and mouse game. These are all things we want to make sure, if we see it out on the street…make sure to stay away from it.”

Police also urge anyone with any information at all about this drug to please contact Miami-Dade Crimestoppers.

Trying to Keep Kids Safe

Thankfully so far this is the only case reported in Miami-Dade of this occurrence, but police are still actively doing their best to alert communities about the dangers of this substance and to be vigilant when it comes to their children.

The authorities have said new versions of these drugs are constantly being created to avoid arrest, and this is true across the country as the makers of synthetic drugs do their best to stay under the radar by relabeling, renaming and even chemically altering the drugs to slip through loopholes. These drugs target kids, so local officials and law enforcement want parents to know what’s out there hidden in plain sight.

Reading this kind of news is so disturbing because it exposes us to an ugly reality of drug dealers who are careless in their efforts to profit off of poisoning children. Then we are forced to ask how long this specific drug ring was able to stay in business before it was found and shut down.

How many people did it supply drugs to?

How many of those people were young children?

Then the scarier reality starts to settle in behind all these questions: who else out there is doing it?

Surely this isn’t the only time we are going to see synthetic drugs like Flakka being mixed in with otherwise harmless products to conceal the corrosive concoction that can cause a serious health catastrophe for adults and children, so what else out there could be putting kids at risk?

Drugs like Flakka and Bath Salts are as dangerous as other drugs, if not more because their ingredients are less than trustworthy, and being called ‘safe alternatives’ is a false statement synthetics are labeled with to sell to young people. These drugs are disastrous and can turn fatal, but no addict has to suffer this way. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

New Bath Salt-Like Drug Makes Its Rounds in Florida

New Bath Salt-Like Drug Makes Its Rounds in Florida

Matthew Kenney booking photo via Broward Sheriff’s Office

By Cheryl Steinberg

It seems like Florida is the land of scumbags, white-collar criminals, and the jumping off point of any new (read: psychosis-inducing) drug that comes ashore. A few years ago, it was the “Causeway Cannibal” who basically ate the face off of a homeless man. Well, looks like there’s a new sherriff in town and it makes you just as crazy.

A Florida man, high on a synthetic drug called Flakka, stripped off his clothes and ran naked through traffic in the city of Fort Lauderdale in South Florida. Apparently, the man was trying to escape some imaginary killers who he said stole his clothes – the reason for him being naked, duh! – and were out to kill him.

Matthew Kenney, 34, reportedly told police that he smoked Flakka before the incident that took place early Saturday evening, stripping down to just his sneakers.

As an indication as to just how powerful this new designer drug is, Kenney told arresting officers that he would “rather die than be caught by these unknown people.” According to a Fort Lauderdale Police report, Kenney added that “if I got hit by a car they would stop chasing me.”

After his arrest, Kenney was hospitalized for a psychiatric evaluation.

Flakka is usually made from the chemical alpha-PVP, a synthetic version of the stimulant cathinone, which is the same class of chemical used in making bath salts. Flakka can be used in various ways: by injection, snorting, smoking, or by swallowing and has been nicknamed “5-dollar-insanity” for its extreme psychological effects and cheap cost.

In a revisit to the horror of the bath salt epidemic three years ago, this new synthetic drug is causing the same kind of panic.

In fact, the story about Mr. Kenney is not the first of its kind regarding Flakka; it has reportedly led to other bizarre behavior in Florida, that is, bizarre-for-Florida behavior.

There have been other incidents – linked by police to the psychosis-inducing drug –including a man standing armed and naked on his roof while yelling “I feel delusional, and I’m hallucinating.” Other incidents involving Flakka include several attempted break-ins at police precincts and an attack on an 86-year-old woman.

Flakka has been compared to “bath salts,” because it causes similar symptoms and behaviors but, it’s not exactly the same drug. Experts say Flakka, like bath salts, can cause feelings of “superhuman strength” and can result in “psychotic” behavior in users.

Flakka is made from the chemical alpha-PVP, a man-made version of cathinone, which is a stimulant that’s as strong as the most potent varieties of crystal meth, cocaine or MDMA.

“We’re starting to see a rash of cases of a syndrome referred to as excited delirium,” said Jim Hall, an epidemiologist at the Center for Applied Research on Substance Use and Health Disparities at Nova Southeastern University.

“This is where the body goes into hyperthermia, generally a temperature of 105 degrees. The individual becomes psychotic, they often rip off their clothes and run out into the street violently and have an adrenaline-like strength and police are called and it takes four or five officers to restrain them,” Hall continued.

Flakka can be fatal if users don’t receive immediate medical attention.

Does the idea of a new drug with potent effects interest you? Do you find that you’re always looking for that next fix – the one that’s going to get you higher than you’ve ever been? For people with substance use disorder, such as drug addiction, these thoughts and feelings are very real and very common. When in active addiction, the addict is always looking to replace that first high – the one that’s never replaceable. And so they keep using. And, often times, they turn to other, more potent and dangerous drugs and/or they mix different drugs in an effort to feel good. This can lead to overdose and death. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak with an Addiction Specialist today.

Synthetic ‘Cloud 9’ Causing Serious Controversy

Synthetic ‘Cloud 9’ Causing Serious Controversy

Author: Justin Mckibben

Synthetic drugs have become a considerably relevant issue in recent years, with everything from the drug Kratom to Spice, these chemical cocktails are designed to fly under the radar while being solicited to teens as a quick buzz for a small price. But they are far more dangerous than the makers lead customers to believe, and are causing a great deal of harm to those using them. Recent reports show that a new substance referred to as ‘Cloud 9’ is a disguise for Bath Salts, having found a way to slip by authorities undetected as a liquid. This has already caused a few teens in Michigan to be hospitalized, and authorities have begun to take immediate action to halt the drug from spreading.

Finding Balth Salts in Fraser

The newest threat to kids that is making it to more and more high school students is a synthetic drug given the street name ‘Cloud 9’ or ‘Relax’. In Fraser, Michigan there has been a recent outbreak of activity in regards to this new subtle substance that has sprung up among teens in the area. Fraser Public Safety Director George Rouhib was reached for comment in regards to the current circumstances surrounding the ‘Cloud 9’ problem and what they already know about the drug. Rouhib said,

“It has the same affects as cocaine, meth and ecstasy. A person can basically have a heart attack. They’re putting drops on their tongue, or mixing drops with chewing gum candy and soft drinks.”

Police said the students are also using e-cigarettes to vaporize ‘Cloud 9’.

Rouhib when on to state that ‘Cloud 9’ is being purchased at many gas stations, but that it is not visible to the public at most of these locations. The tenants of the establishments that may still carry it keep the substance behind the counter. In the past few months Rouhib noted that there have been allegedly five teenagers to overdose on ‘Cloud 9’. Just last week two students at John Glenn High School were rushed to the hospital after ingesting the drug.

Fraser officials specifically are currently working with local law enforcement officials to develop a plan of action, in hopes of eliminating the threat presented by this new and deadly drugs. Officer Rouhib stated that the ultimate goal would be to make it so distribution of “Cloud 9” products would be a felony charge, and possibly even possession itself.

‘Cloud 9’ in Canton

Canton Township police in Michigan state that four students from Salem High School were rushed to the hospital, and were believed to have inhaled or ingested ‘Cloud 9’, which is so potent the cops handle it with gloves.  It was being distributed at or near Salem High School. One of the four victims was reported to have been behaving erratically the morning of the incident. Det. Sgt. Chad Baugh provided local news with information about the case,

“He was walking around, he bumped into a teacher, spilling coffee on the teacher. The teacher went to address the student and he really was unresponsive to a large degree,”

The day before that particular incident, another 17-year-old girl had become ill. She was still hospitalized when the other three students that had taken the drug required medical treatment. They were suspected to have ingested the ‘Cloud 9’ through a vaporizer commonly used for e-cigarettes.

“By taking eight or nine drops on her tongue which led to what we believe was a medical reaction where the fire department was called to assist her.”

Baugh later spoke briefly about their investigation into the sale and distribution of this new threat, and about the growing concern among the community to stop the spread of this drug at the source by raids done on the local businesses dealing the substance.

“We have a person who we believe has been distributing this ‘Cloud 9’ and we understand probably at least one location that’s selling it,” said Baugh.

Canton Township police are making progress in the investigation, and Canton Township Deputy Police Chief Debra Newsome reached out to comment on the headway, and issued a warning about what these drugs can create as far as harmful physical conditions in those who take them,

“Hallucinations, nausea, vomiting, extreme high heart rate which is causing medical experts a great amount of concern.”

The Canton Township police are on a mission to warn students about the dangers of these drugs, as well as to put an end to the sale. Plymouth-Canton schools are telling parents:

The Synthetic Secret

Like most synthetic drugs that emerge and make serious waves in any underground market, what makes them extremely dangerous is the fact that they are completely legal. Every time a synthetic drug is put together and finds its way public there is always a period of legal sales, which makes the situation worse because more people are exposed to it, and more people run the risk of being seriously affected by the drug before officials can take notice to the danger it poses to the public. But thankfully word is traveling fast to store owners about how dangerous it is, and what kind of trouble is soon to come with it.

The thing that makes ‘Cloud 9’ and other synthetic drugs so dangerous is that they typically remain legal for a while. The fact that these drugs go undisputed for a while leaves more people vulnerable to them. But there are also other drugs that are dangerous and have been legal for a long time, like alcohol. Drugs of all forms can have a serious devastating effect on the lives of those who use them, and when drug abuse is an issue, lives are always at risk. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

In the News: College Student Stabs Mother and Chops off Penis While on Club Drug

In the News: College Student Stabs Mother and Chops off Penis While on Club Drug

image credit:

December 29, West Sussex, England – A 19 year old college student who was home during semester break attacked his mother and then himself, cutting off his own penis, the UK publication The Daily Mail reports.

Police say the teen was high on a party drug commonly known as “meow meow” at the time of the attack. When the police arrived, the teen, who has not been named, was hanging from a window at the home with a noticeably “bloody groin.”

A family friend told the Mirror, another UK publication, that the student is generally “lovely lad” who had started experimenting with drugs while in college. It is believed that the attack occurred because of his being intoxicated with the synthetic drug known as meow meow.

Both mother and son were admitted to the hospital in critical condition and are, according to reports, now in stable condition. It is reported that the young man’s penis has been re-attached.

Mephedrone/Meow Meow

Meow meow is one of several street names, just like “bath salts,” “drone,” “plant food,” and “MCAT,” for the synthetic drug called mephedrone – a man-made stimulant with effects supposedly similar to cocaine, ecstasy, and other amphetamines. Users say mephedrone has the same euphoric effects as ecstasy, but with the short-lived ‘high’ off a line of coke.

However, just like with amphetamines, mephedrone can also cause anxiety and paranoia.

Other side-effects are even more disturbing and include headaches, heart palpitations, nausea, high blood pressure, burning sensation of the throat, nose bleeds and purple joints, (especially the hands and  knees).

Mephedrone is chemically similar to compounds of the khat plant, found in eastern Africa, and became popular among club scene kids as a more easily available and (at the time) legal replacement for MDMA, or “molly,” the pure form of the designer drug known as Ecstasy.

Astonishingly, it is thought that at least one person a week dies after taking mephedrone. In the UK, mephedrone was legal until 2010. It is now a class B drug which makes it illegal to sell and possess meow meow throughout the UK.

Synthesis of Meow Meow

Mephedrone is reported to be manufactured in China and comes in the form of tablets or a powder, which users can swallow, snort or inject.

Although mephedrone is referred to as a “new party drug,” it was first synthesized back in 1929. However, it did not become widely known until it was rediscovered in 2003. By 2007, mephedrone could be purchased online, by 2008 law enforcement agencies had become increasingly aware of the drug and, by 2010, was found in most of Europe, and especially in the United Kingdom.

Mephedrone was first made illegal in 2008 in Israel, followed by Sweden later that year. In 2010, it was made illegal in many European countries and in December 2010, the European Union ruled it illegal. In Australia, New Zealand and the U.S., mephedrone is considered similar to other illegal drugs and can therefore be controlled by laws like the Federal Analog Act. In September 2011, the United States temporarily classified mephedrone as illegal, effective of October of 2011. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.










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