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What Exactly Is Synthetic Drug Addiction? 

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When you’re dealing with synthetic drugs, you have no idea what’s in it. You literally don’t know what it is. Therefore, it’s like Russian roulette every time you use.

By its very nature, substance abuse can cause legal complications for drug users and addicts. People in search of their next “high” constantly run the risk of being arrested, and the penalties can be severe. For example, under Idaho law, if an individual possesses more than three ounces of marijuana, they can be charged with a felony and may face up to five years in prison and $10,000 in fines. More serious drug charges in Idaho can result in life imprisonment.

Do you need drug rehab? Call us today at 888.296.8976 to find out.

An Attempt to Skirt the Law

To evade law enforcement, illegal drug manufacturers formulate new chemical and drug compounds that can act as an illicit intoxicant—a narcotic, stimulant, or hallucinogen, for example. However, they alter the chemical structure to the point that it may not qualify under current anti-drug restrictions.

When law enforcement becomes aware of a new synthetic drug within its jurisdiction, and legislation bans that substance, the manufacturer just steps back for a moment, tweaks the formula a bit, and reintroduces the “new and improved” drug. By the most conservative count, there are now more than 400 different identified synthetic drugs, and more are being introduced all the time—as many as five a month.

Types of Synthetic Drugs and Their Associated Dangers

Because they are not technically illegal, these synthetic drugs are often sold out in the open in gas stations, novelty shops, and other similar establishments, usually with a deceptive label, such as “not for human consumption”, “herbal incense”, etc. Moreover, some brands make no attempt at pretense, marketing their product as a legal substitute for marijuana and other drugs. They may even go as far as to say that they are a “safer, all-natural” alternative. In fact, they are not.

The most common type of synthetic drugs in Idaho are synthetic cannabinoids. These are drugs that imitate the effects of marijuana, and usually come in the form of plant material that has been sprayed or laced with a chemical compound. Generic names might include:

  • K2
  • Spice
  • Herbal Smoking Blends

There are two main reasons why synthetic cannabinoids are dangerous. First, the chemicals in synthetic cannabinoids are full agonists, which means they are much more potent than the THC in actual marijuana. Second, there is little to no regulation about what chemicals are used to saturate the herbal compound, and some of these substances can be toxic to the human body. In fact, there may be more than 100 different chemicals in one formulation. Adverse effects include:

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Agitation
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Heart attack
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures and convulsions
  • Psychosis

In 2011, more than 28,000 emergency room visits were linked to synthetic drugs.

Synthetic cathinones

These are stimulants that mimic the effects of the Khat plant, a bush that grows in southern Arabia and East Africa. People chew Khat leaves to experience their mildly euphoric, stimulating effect.

Most people know synthetic cathinones by their more-recognizable name: bath salts. However, there is no relation between the drug and the bathing product. They may also be sold as other innocuous products such as “plant food,” “screen cleaner,” or “jewelry cleaner.” Brand names may include such labels as:

  • White Lightning
  • Vanilla Sky
  • Bloom
  • Cloud Nine
  • Flakka
  • And many other such names

Synthetic cathinones appear as brown or white crystalline powders. Like other stimulants, individuals can snort, swallow, smoke, or inject them for their effects. Dealers then market bath salts as a cheap, safer alternative to cocaine or methamphetamines. However, they are in fact very dangerous, producing effects such as:

  • Unreasonable paranoia
  • Frightening hallucinations
  • Panic attacks
  • Delirium
  • Extremely violent behavior

Withdrawing from Synthetic Drugs

Both synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic cathinones can be highly addictive and can trigger intense drug cravings. By discontinuing these drugs, strong withdrawal symptoms may result, including:

  • Severe headaches
  • Heightened anxiety
  • Extreme irritability
  • Depression

Withdrawal symptoms can begin as early as 2–3 days after the last synthetic drug use, and will usually peak in severity between days 4–7. While unpleasant, the symptoms are not physically dangerous, and will typically begin to dissipate in 2–3 weeks. Although these synthetic drugs mimic the effects of other drugs, they are chemically different. Therefore, no medications are currently available to ease any withdrawal symptoms.

Warning Signs of Synthetic Drug Abuse

It is impossible for any drug test to accurately determine if a person has been abusing synthetic drugs because there are so many different formulations. Therefore, anyone concerned that their loved one may be using synthetic drugs must rely on signs and symptoms such as:

  • Agitation/restlessness
  • Mood swings/manic euphoria
  • Profuse sweating/overheating
  • Confusion/inability to focus or concentrate
  • Incoherent speech
  • Rapid heartbeat/chest pain/heart attack
  • Aggression/homicidal tendencies
  • Hallucinations/delusions
  • Paranoia
  • Seizures, perhaps even to the point of being life-threatening

The abuse of synthetic drugs is not only addictive—it can be fatal, not only to the abuser but also to people around them. Therefore, it is imperative that a person who is using synthetic drugs get immediate professional help. Northpoint Recovery is Idaho’s premier inpatient addiction rehabilitation program, providing individualized treatment plans based upon each client’s unique needs and circumstances.

It’s time to stop what’s happening to you. Therefore, call us today at 888.296.8976 and stop the debilitating progress of the disease of addiction in your life.