The Flood of Designer Drugs

The good news first- The use of heroin and cocaine in the Western world is on the decline. The bad news? This decline is being replaced with all sorts of legal drugs to get high on.

The use of new psychoactive substances has proliferated, and these new designer substances how outnumber the varieties of illegal drugs (if you’re keeping score at home- there are 234).

These drugs aren’t necessarily newly created drugs either. Many of these drugs have been around for decades only to be used recently for their psychoactive attributes. For instance- ketamine, used as a horse tranquilizer, is now a popular hallucinogenic commonly called “Special K.” Also, fake pot- better known as “Spice,” is a substance that looks like pot sprayed with chemicals which is known to mimic the high of marijuana.

The unfortunate part is the issue of regulation or banning some of these drugs is very difficult. In 2012, the U.S. Congress added 26 of these drugs to the Controlled Substances Act, but their makeup keeps changing rapidly to elude regulations.

To further complicate things, many of the substances are opening sold on websites. In January of 2012, there were 693 online shops selling new psychoactive substances (up from 170 in 2010).

“As soon as we make these things illegal, criminal organizations will go back and change one molecule… one molecule and it changes the entire drug. It changes the whole structure of the drug, so the drug becomes legal and we’re at it again,” James Capra, the DEA chief of operations told ABC. “And that’s the dynamic of what we’re faced with.”


While the DEA and other law enforcement is working to get these drugs illegal and off the streets, we also want to emphasize the dangers of these new psychoactive substances. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is reporting thousands of emergency departments visits which involved a synthetic product in 2010, which more than doubled in 2011.


If you know anyone suffering from the use of psychoactive substances, don’t wait. Act now.

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