Author: Justin Mckibben
The synthetic epidemic is one that has existed parallel to the ongoing and increasingly distressing heroin and opiate epidemic, but now a new synthetic opiate threatens to make a detrimental contribution to both sides of the troubled task of fighting these epidemics.
Synthetic Substance Problems
For a while it seemed like every other week you would hear about another synthetic form of a street drug was being marketed in corner stores and smoke-shops under clever brand disguises, or there was a new form of chemically-induced insanity like Bath Salts or Flakka with a name always stranger than the one before it. Overdoses, bizarre behaviors and even deaths escalated as a result of these unregulated and often mysteriously concocted ingredients as law enforcement struggled to keep up with constantly changing names and components.
As distributors did their best to avoid detection they changed an ingredient or two in the chemicals used to make the synthetic drugs, and this kept them slipping through loop holes and out of the grasp of law enforcement. New legislation has been proposed just to try and hone in on the problem, and many states are still stumbling trying to keep up.
This newest suspect to send a shock to the system is the synthetic opiate U-47700. In the last several decades the synthetic opiate U-47700 has generally been limited to laboratories, but is now this opiate is being “recycled” as a recreational drug on the streets.
The Trouble with U-47700
According to reports on the synthetic opiate U-47700 the drug is actually 7.5 times more powerful than morphine and can cost as low as $40 per gram! The synthetic opiate also has been reported to be abused in various ways including:
- Snorted in powder form
- Taken orally
- Injected intravenously
There have even been reports of individuals taking U-47700 rectally. At this point no matter how it is ingested, users should be aware that it comes with a great measure of danger. Most recently the synthetic opiate already sent two young adults in North Texas to the hospital, with one of the individuals in intensive care with respiratory depression.
This recent incident created such shock that it prompted the Parkland Health and Hospital System to release a statement last week desperately warning the community of the dangers of U-47700. In a Parkland Hospital press release Dr. Kristina Domanski, a toxicologist with the North Texas Poison Center stressed the nature of the drug as an experimental synthetic opiate, saying:
“This seems to be a pretty new recycling of the drug which is intended as a research drug and not for use in humans,”
This may be the first time you have ever even heard of U-47700, I know I had never heard of it… but this isn’t the first time this drug has brought some serious concerns to the table. This synthetic opiate has been linked to deaths throughout Europe, motivating Sweden and Finland to make it illegal, and back in February the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) issued a statement regarding a death in Belgium that was connected to a combination of fentanyl and U-47700.
In this statement the UNODC noted that U-47700 has,
“…effects very similar to morphine and heroin, but with a significantly shorter duration of action.”
The intensity of this synthetic opiate creates an exacerbated threat potential for overdose, respiratory depression and death.
Internet Intervenes with the Issue
Users of the synthetic opiate have shared a variety of personal experiences on online forums like Bluelight and Reddit, and one Bluelight user quoted a parent whose son died from an accidental U-47700 overdose, stating:
“He was still sitting in his chair, so I hope with all my heart that he died quickly, painlessly and without fear. He was our only child…we don’t have answers, but these chemicals are far too dangerous. Live to be old, not just 22.”
A Reddit user described watching a friend almost succumb to an overdose on U-47700, but this individual was saved be the administration of Narcan.
With all the internet testimonies of users seeking a euphoric feeling and being met with near-death experiences it is probably fair to say that these online forums are helping spread the word on this dangerous and deadly synthetic drug that is making its way from the research labs to the mainstream drug scene.
But how is this drug getting on the streets? Well, that too is the internet… as plenty of sites also advertise being able to sell research chemicals. In fact, when I searched U-47700 on Google the third site to link to was selling the synthetic opiate in powdered form for $39.99 in U.S. dollars, so it apparently isn’t that hard to get a hold of.
The question is- will people heed the warnings being shouted out across the internet and news, or will this new potent and potentially lethal substance add a new element to the demoralization and ruin caused by the opiate epidemic.
Synthetic or ‘designer’ drugs are bad enough already, and the opiate problem has only continuously gotten worse. Although this research chemical may not be as well known, it is a tremendous threat, but there is an effective rehabilitation program to help. If your or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
In a decision that will undoubtedly be debated at innovative or extremely controversial, emergency responders in Florida are going to be taking a pretty drastic measure in their movements to fight back against the growing issue of the infamous “$5 insanity” of Flakka… using doses of Ketamine to subdue violently aggressive patients.
When I came across this story I could not help but be baffled, yet curious as to how exactly this plan of action has been orchestrated and how it will be executed.
So I want to ask… is it a good idea that EMTs in Florida are going to be using Ketamine to fight Flakka?
First- What is Flakka?
For anyone who hasn’t heard, Flakka is one of the newest dangerous drugs to hit the streets that has gained a lot of attention in a short period of time for the dramatic, tragic and appalling stories it has inspired.
The synthetic drug Flakka, also known by other names such as Gravel, is a synthetic version of an exceedingly strong stimulant cathinone, officially dubbed alpha Pyrrolidinopentiophenone (Alpha-PVP). Commonly found in a crystal-like form, Flakka is known to be cheap, addictive, and deadly. When used this can be ingested in various ways, including:
Some of the effects include:
- Body overheating
- Heightened sense of euphoria
- Feeling superhuman strength
- Psychotic episodes
There have been stories of people running naked through the streets, reacting in rage to horrific hallucinations, and even one story of an elderly woman beaten to death by an individual trapped in a Flakka induced violently psychotic episode. These terrible and frightening stories have hit authorities hard, and apparently they are willing to go to great lengths to put a stop to the madness.
So then what is Ketamine?
Ketamine is another synthetic substance that has a history of strange side-effects and street credit for being abused and becoming addictive. It has been used before as an anesthetic and analgesic drug, but earned a bad name for its illicit use as a hallucinogen. It also has a reputation as a “date-rape” drug.
Ketamine is commonly seen as a powder or liquid and was initially used on animals. When used on the streets it is often ingested by:
- Consumed with drinks
Yet more recently we have begun to see more and more people pushing for one reason or another to drop the bad name assigned to Ketamine to promote positive uses for it, such as treating depression.
Synthetic VS Synthetic
Now in a very radical approach some Florida EMS departments are arming their paramedics with Ketamine as a new weapon to fight Flakka. The latest fire and rescue department in the state to start utilizing Ketamine is Indian River County Fire and EMS. Last week the announced that within the next two weeks their paramedics will be trained on how to administer Ketamine and equipped with the substance.
According to officials the thigh injection can sedate a patient within a minute. Battalion Chief Cory Richter in Indian River County told reporters,
“It will knock them out, but it won’t hurt them in any way, shape or form. It will allow us to treat them and get them to the hospital, and it keeps our guys safe.”
Richter went on to explain that patients who are high on Flakka pose a very real threat to paramedics because the drug gives them superhuman strength and also makes them resistant to pain. Indian River County has had several serious incidents involving Flakka in the past few months, so authorities are done taking their chances it seems.
Indian River County is not the first in Florida to use Ketamine for this purpose. The city of Plantation began placing vials of Ketamine on all of rescue trucks, but reported only needing to use them roughly once per month. The officials in these areas insist that Ketamine is more effective than other drugs because it doesn’t affect the patient’s respiratory system or heart rate, making it safer to use as well. Last July Lt. Daniel Tringali of the Plantation Fire Department told reporters,
“If a police officer’s Taser does not stop them, something needs to stop them,”
Again driving home the point that even though many question Ketamine as being a powerful sedative substance it is still a measure many have deemed necessary in contrast to allowing their EMTs, other emergency response teams or law enforcement to be at elevated risk of injury from an aggressive individual in a Flakka induced rage. To fight Flakka it might be necessary to give EMTs an advantage.
I find myself wondering how this would work out. Apparently officials in the areas already using Ketamine to fight Flakka think it is doing a decent enough job of keeping people safe in the most compromising circumstances. Considering last summer 27 people died of Flakka-related overdoses in an 8 month period in Broward County alone, I think maybe it is understandable why people are so desperate to find a new means to fight Flakka. Not sure if substituting Ketamine is the best solution there is, but right now it seems to be a strategy people are willing to try.
Synthetic drug abuse is so dangerous because of the fact the ingredients and the side-effects can be horrifically unpredictable. Chemical cocktails made from mystery compounds in underground labs with lethal potency are a nightmare being sold on the streets, and beyond such a radical idea as pitting one chemical against the other there is real recovery from drug abuse in the Palm Partners addiction treatment program. If you or someone you love is struggling please don’t wait, call 1-800-951-6135. We want to help, you are not alone.
Author: Justin Mckibben
New synthetic psychoactive drugs are hitting the streets and congesting the underground market somewhere every day, many of which can even be ordered legally and with great ease over the internet under the guise of incense blends or other ‘natural’ herbs or supplements. Others have been passed off as bath salts or plant fertilizers.
Synthetic cannabinoids are very deadly, but they are also increasingly difficult to identify chemically, especially with the smallest piece of the formula being altered frequently. Therefore investigating all the possible unwanted toxic effects that can occur following their consumption has barely been an exact science.
Between 2005 and 2012, the European Union’s early warning system established:
- Just under 240 new psychoactive substances
- Around 140 of them contained synthetic cannabinoids
All this and more have fueled a synthetic epidemic that has started to gain more and more recognition as the damage being done becomes progressively visible.
Now, new research is suggesting some disturbing ideas on how these dangerous compounds could actually contribute to cancer.
SPICE I and II Seeking Signs of Damage
SPICE I and SPICE II Plus are international cooperation projects at EU level that have been led by the Institute of Medical Jurisprudence at the University Hospital of Freiburg (Prof. Volker Auwärter) and which have also involved the MedUni Vienna and the Goethe University of Frankfurt, the University of Helsinki, the Institute of Therapy Research in Munich, as well as input from partners such as the Federal Criminal Office of Wiesbaden.
As part of the international the European Union (EU) project “SPICE II Plus” teams of scientists from the MedUni Vienna’s Institute for Cancer Research have reportedly found evidence synthetic substances do serious damage to human cell’s DNA, which therefore means there is a possibility synthetic drugs have an impact fundamentally cancer-causing.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the psychoactive ingredient of marijuana. It is also the ingredient synthetic cannabinoids mimic when binding to the cannabinoid receptors in the brain, triggering similar neurophysiological effects.
Siegfried Knasmüller from the Institute for Cancer Research at the MedUni Vienna warns,
“The substances are directly active, in other words they are not activated via enzymes that metabolise foreign substances. The respiratory organs and the digestive tract especially are subjected to increased concentrations of these drugs.”
Knasmüller goes on to explain his times investigations on human cell lines in the laboratory have demonstrated synthetic cannabinoids are likely to trigger damage to the DNA that may have significant consequences for the consumers of such substances. This especially relevant in the high concentrations found in cells in the oral cavity or in the lungs.
Again, what points to their impact on developing cancer is that they damage chromosomes, which is directly associated with cancer.
Difficult Differences in Dangers
A huge hurdle to try and overcome when comparing and connecting these drugs and their effects to the symptoms and signs of cancer is most synthetic cannabinoids bind very differently and some have different but profound effects even in very small quantities.
Consumers have absolutely no information about the varying levels of effect thanks to the devious efforts made by manufacturing entities, making people purchasing these products unaware of the detailed composition of unnaturally chemical drugs.
As we had mentioned before, even with “known” products the makers will change the type and quantity of ingredients added constantly to slip through loopholes in the system. The risk of an unwanted overdose is congruently great, with an increasing number of deaths being credited to overdoses of synthetic drugs.
With the added possibility that synthetic drugs could be causing cancer these is no doubt more will be done to combat this issue. Still, with such a growing popularity and being so difficult to track it could take a long time to prove which chemicals are causing cancer. What is even more disheartening is will it even matter to the producers or consumers?
One thing is for sure, with all the detrimental side-effects already known, adding that these drugs destroy your DNA at a cellular level should be more than enough.
Legal or not, synthetic or ‘designer’ drugs are much more lethal than far too many people give credit. Although they are relatively new and not all details are understood, there are still effective rehabilitation programs built to help. If your or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
This past few years the world has realized that drug abuse is no longer limited to the more conventional and commonplace illicit substances. You know the names marijuana and cocaine, or heroin and meth, but what about the designer drugs? Across the country in spurts we have seen surges of synthetic drugs that gain quick notoriety, with sometimes deadly side effects.
Chemical cocktails created by people trying to get a quick buck for a cheap high they brand and market as ‘safer legal alternatives’ are slowly but surely mixing up more dangerous doses, and it is no surprise that now we are starting to see a more deadly side of the synthetic drug market.
The Death of Grant Hobson
Grant Hobson was a teenager who shortly after placing a chemical-laden stamp on his tongue with the intention of a typical psychedelic ‘trip’ was pronounced brain-dead. The 16 year old young man was the latest teenager from Texas’ fast-growing Montgomery County to fall victim to a strain of synthetic LSD being sold locally.
A string of similar tragedies in the county has led officials to push back against the emerging epidemic, and the local law enforcement is throwing their efforts into an investigation for tracking down the source of the deadly drug.
Also increased support for a new bill that would make it easier to regulate the drug state-wide has followed these tragic events that have caused such distress in the area. This new bill aims to punish those pushing it out to the region’s teens, in an effort to nip this issue in the bud.
Other Stories of Dangerous Synthetics
There was also the case of Kenneth Robert Sprankle, who back in December of 2013 attacked police while being under the influence of spice. In St. Petersburg Sprankle was observed wandering around town with an axe he had stolen from a local fire truck, and when the police finally got to him he was charging at them with the axe and an officer fired 5 shots which were fatal.
In Michigan a synthetic drug in liquid form called ‘Cloud 9’ made an appearance in September 2014 that caused quite a bit of concern. Canton Township police in Michigan stated that four students from Salem High School were rushed to the hospital, and were believed to have inhaled or ingested ‘Cloud 9’, while in Fraser there were other reports of students being hospitalized after ingesting the substance.
Surveying the Synthetic Market
Synthetic drugs come in all forms with several different descriptions for different highs. All sorts of these dangerous chemical products are popular among teens, especially since they are being falsely advertised as a potentially safer, legal alternative to their illicit counterparts.
Synthetic marijuana is known by a long list of other names including:
According to resent estimates, synthetic marijuana is the second-most commonly used drug among high school seniors, right behind the real thing. But the pseudo pot’s legal status was being regularly questioned and revisited. The makers and marketers use the loop-hole of labeling these products as “not for human consumption” to try and divert from the fact that people are consuming these chemicals to get high.
Either way the legality doesn’t make it a safer option. Synthetic cannabinoids are actually more potent than the THC found in real marijuana, and the stronger effects have resulted in thousands of poisonings since the drugs hit the market in the early 2000s.
Changing the Drug World
Synthetics and designer drugs are making their way the top of the totem-poll, climbing past their natural counterparts as the substance of choice among drug abusers, especially younger users. This could actually contribute to the many big changes going on in the drug world concerning both the market, the war on drugs, and the treatment of addiction.
With the world being exposed to how dangerous and deadly these substances can be, we may see even more reform in the way these drugs are classified and regulated, how harm reduction is introduced into the equation, and how raising awareness and developing treatment for synthetic drug abuse and addiction could evolve.
Synthetic drug abuse is not nearly as safe as the marketers and makers would want you to believe, and the true side-effects may be far more hazardous than you ever expected. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
You know that dizzy and achy feeling after a night of binge drinking, often accompanied with nausea or headaches? Yeah we’re talking the serious hurting a hangover puts on you the day after. Hangovers are definitely one of the worst feelings many of us actually subject ourselves to, and they tend to have more of an effect on our bodies than we realize. Sometimes we even mistake our symptoms for something else.
Well some speculate that soon the days of the hangover may be over, as it might become possible to drink as much as you want without fear of a hangover, but is that really possible? And even if it is, is it really a good thing?
Alcosynth the Alcohol Substitute
Now there is said to be a new synthetic alcohol substitute called alcosynth that would actually eradicate the fear of hangovers. While at first this sounds like a cool but scary idea for those who drink excessively, there are also claims that supposedly alcosynth will do away with the chemically addictive side effects of alcohol. While it is interesting, is it a realistic solution?
Professor David Nutt is the former chief drug advisor to the UK government who is credited as the man behind a radical new study on psychedelic drugs. Professor Nutt is also the creator of Alcosynth. This new compound so far has been classified as a benzodiazepine, and is said to act as an inebriant with similar effects to alcohol, like getting intoxicated with the toxins. There are a number of supposed benefits from this new alcohol substitute which include removing several side-effects such as:
- Liver toxicity
- Loss of control
These being many of the problems that we see as some of the most detrimental, it would seem that alcosynth could help a lot of people, if it does what it claims to do without doing the other stuff it was designed to avoid. But then again, if the past few years have taught us anything, it is that these ‘safer’ synthetic drugs cannot always be trusted.
But the buck apparently doesn’t stop at alcosynth. Professor Nutt has also dreamed up a second compound to help with the fight against alcohol abuse. This would be a capsule called “chaperone” that Nutt intends to regulate the effects of regular alcohol intake. The idea behind it would be that you could take a pill with booze, and you would be completely unable to become drunk to the point of incapacitation. The price for this “sober up pill” expensive as well, and with a substance like this it has a chance of being abused.
Everyone who sees something like this is surely waiting in anticipation for that other shoe to drop. The catch is for the human trials and legal fees necessary to help the alcosynth product alone to become a reality, the cost would most likely surpass$1.5 million.
Professor Nutt remains optimistic that his product could change the world, and that his product will sell itself to those most likely to benefit from it, the beverage industry. He believes these companies in particular should take his synthetic alcohol seriously, especially from the position of corporate social responsibility.
“The drinks industry should see this as a natural stage in the evolution of their products which will ultimately help them avoid expensive litigation costs,”
There has so far been some resistance from strict drug laws in both Australia and his native UK, but Nutt seems steadfast with the production of his new products. There have even been reports that he has applied for patents on 85 new chemical compounds in the alcosynth and chaperone families!
But beyond the bank accounts, more concern comes with the idea that this product could be another example of how we’re using technology and other resources as a society to enable ourselves. What dangers will we face once people start drinking more and more excessively because they aren’t afraid of hangovers.
What has Nutt so convinced that the problem of alcoholism and alcoholic addiction can be solved so easily by changing the chemical compounds of it?
What if people do start abusing this “sober pill” or even worse, it works and people don’t feel as drunk and drink far beyond what their body can physically stand? Or will it justify itself by vastly reducing the number of alcohol related accidents?
How many lives will be at risk by putting a substance in the hands of drinkers that encourages them to drink more without fear of consequences? While it seems that science if definitely trying to make strides, will it truly be the best thing for us? If there is a legitimate ‘cure’ for alcoholism science may indeed one day accomplish this, but it hasn’t done so… yet?
Alcohol abuse and alcoholism are devastating and tragic afflictions, and they reap a lot of havoc beyond just hangovers. Alcohol is a drug that destroys families, ruins futures, and ends lives, but there is always hope for the future. While there may not be a ‘cure’ for alcoholism, there is treatment that not only saves lives, but changes them. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135