As mentioned, designer drugs are synthetic and made in labs. Under United States law, most are designated as controlled substances. They have a similar effect and structure to other types of drugs and their street names vary with each manufacturer, when they are created and where they are found. These aspects change often, making designer drugs unpredictable. Commonly found designer drugs include types of amphetamines, phencyclidine, and meperidine. By labeling them as plant food, bath salts and other legally sold chemicals, the creators of these drugs avoid provisions of existing drug laws.
Designer drugs have been around for a long time. By the middle of the 1800s, opium was used to isolate morphine. By the 1900s, coca leaves were used to isolate cocaine and morphine was synthesized from heroin. During the 60s and 70s, the number of laboratories that produced synthetic drugs increased. In the 80s, police officers coined the term “designer drug.” The term refers to drugs in which the chemical makeup is altered in homemade labs. Now, bath salts are becoming an increasingly popular designer drug.
Bath salts, which can be compared to mixture of amphetamines, give users an experience of extreme euphoria. When that feeling goes away, it leaves people craving more. Taking bath salts, or any other designer drug, can lead to serious consequences. These dangers include kidney failure, heart attacks, extreme aggression and even death. Australia, the U.S., the U.K. and several European countries have all banned bath salts due to the many dangers associated with their use, but little research has been done on the pharmacology or toxicology of the drugs. Mephedrone, an amphetamine found in bath salts, is capable of vasoconstriction, which has led to deaths and overdoses.
Although there have been bans on chemical compounds used to create synthetic drugs, people typically find ways around them. They find papers published about chemical compound bans to create new formulations to bypass current laws. Indiana enacted a law that prohibits chemical compounds used to make synthetic drugs like K2, but in Europe K4, which is similar to K2, has already been created with a different chemical makeup that would avoid Indiana’s legislation.
Amphetamine, methamphetamine and PCP are three of the main drugs used as a basis for various designer drugs. Once changes have been made to these basic drugs, they take on various street names such as Special K, Lover’s Speed, XTC, Adam, ecstasy and fantasy quaalude. Most designer drugs kick in rapidly and are short-lived. They can be found in capsules or tablets and can be ingested, snorted or injected. High doses lead to hallucinations, paranoia, irrational behavior and death.
Bath salts are the newest designer drugs. They are not actual bath salts for home use, but they are marketed as bath salts so that they can be sold in convenience stores and online. They are also labeled with a warning stating that they are not for human consumption as a way to avoid being labeled an illegal substance. On the streets, they are called names such as Bliss, Vanilla Sky, Ivory Wave and Purple Wave. Currently, there are no ways to test individuals for bath salt use, so it is unknown what the chemical compounds in the drugs are. Those under the influence of bath salts experience chest pain, paranoia, agitation, hallucinations and suicidal thoughts. They may also have increased pulse and high blood pressure, but the only way to determine if a person is under the influence of bath salts is if he or she actually tells you, there’s currently no other way to know.
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