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A new type of drug is making its way into communities all over the world. Synthetic drugs are sometimes sold in convenience stores, gas stations on online. These new designer drugs can be deadly the first time they are used.

Most people have heard of the dangers of illegal drugs, such as meth and heroin. But if the names spice, bath salts and K2 don’t mean anything to you, you may be in for a surprise. The names above are drugs making an appearance on the streets and in schools around the country.

What Are Synthetic Drugs?

Synthetic drugs are man-made chemicals that are added to herbs and shredded plant material. They are sold in order to produce a mind alternating effect or a “high”. There are different classifications of synthetic drugs. The two most common are cannabinoids and cathinones. Cannabinoids are intended to mimic the effects of marijuana while cathinones are taken to get a high similar to cocaine. Spice, bath salts and K2 are some of the common street names for synthetic drugs.

The drugs are often sold in a form that looks similar to potpourri. In most cases, the drugs are smoked. The drug can also be infused into drinks and in some cases, put into food similar to marijuana.

Synthetic drugs are often sold online and in tobacco shops and convenience stores. Since they are labeled not for human consumption, they had not been scrutinized by the FDA.

Since the drugs are available easily, their use has increased. According to The University of Syracuse, the use of synthetic drugs is on the rise. The drugs can often be bought cheaper than other illegal stress drugs and they are not detectable on drug tests. The combination of both those factors, along with the fact some young people think they are safe has caused an increase in use.

Because the chemicals used to make the drugs were not illegal, the drugs were sold without consequences to the shop owners. However, in recent years, as law enforcement officers became more aware of the dangers, crackdowns have started to be implemented. Various laws have gone into effect, which makes certain chemicals used in the synthetic drugs illegal. However, synthetic drugs still continue to be sold.

Synthetic Drug Dangers

One of the biggest problems with synthetic drugs is they are still easily bought. In the past, most of the chemicals used to make the drugs were not illegal, and the drugs were sold without consequences to the shop owners.

The fact the drugs are sold in a store gives some young people a sense of security that what they are doing will not hurt them. They may believe that since the drug can be purchased legally, it could not be dangerous. 

Additionally, young people may have a misconception that the drugs, which are often marketed as all natural, are safe. But that is far from the truth. The chemical formulations used in synthetic drugs can be many times stronger than THC, which is the component in marijuana. There have been several incidences of young people dying after only taking one hit of a synthetic drug.

The effects reported by users of cannabinoid synthetic drugs includes anxiety, altered perception, paranoia and in some cases hallucinations. Increased heart rate and elevated blood pressure can also occur. Users of cathinones may experience chest pain, extreme paranoia and violent behavior.

Although officials have started to fight the sale of synthetic drugs, there are challenges. For instance, various laws have gone into effect, which makes certain chemicals used in synthetic drugs illegal. But that does not deter the manufacturers of the drugs. The makers of the drugs switch chemicals used in the drugs for newer formulations that are not yet known to law enforcement.

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