With the fast rate at which drug trends always seem to be evolving, it can be difficult to keep up and know what current risks are out there. One trend that has been increasing in popularity is the use of synthetic drugs. Here’s what you need to know about this progression.
Cannabinoids vs Cathinones
First and foremost, it’s important to understand what synthetic drugs are in order to understand why teens might choose to use them. Put simply, synthetic drugs are designed to imitate the properties and effects of known illicit drugs. There are two main categories of synthetic drugs: cannabinoids and cathinones.
Cannabinoids are meant to mimic THC, the chemical compound responsible for marijuana’s psychological effects. They can be sprayed onto plant material to be smoked, or are sold in liquid form to be vaporized and is known on the street as K2, Spice, Moon Rocks, Skunk and fake weed. Cannabinoids are dangerous because they can often be laced with unknown chemicals, leading to negative and unpredictable side effects and because it’s relatively new, there are no studies to show long term effects. That said, it is known to cause rapid heart rate, vomiting, confusion, hallucinations and agitation.
Meanwhile, cathinones are sold under the name “bath salts”, and produce effects similar to amphetamines, including both hallucinogenic and stimulating effects. Similar to cannabinoids, it’s difficult to know what ingredients are in cathinones which is partially why they are dangerous. They can also lead to negative side effects such as paranoia, agitation, aggression, confusion, dizziness, seizures and even death.
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Why They’re Used
If synthetic drugs are so dangerous, why are they being used?
First of all, even though they are now considered illegal, synthetic drugs are relatively easy to access compared to other illicit drugs as they are sometimes sold in small retail stores and can even be found online. Furthermore, many synthetic drugs are manufactured in residential neighborhoods and, the recipe of the drugs are often rapidly changing to technically stay ahead of the law. As a result, it’s almost impossible to know what is actually in the drugs.
Additionally, their harmful effects are also lesser known, leading many teens to believe that they have fewer negative side effects. In other words, while teens may have heard of the negative side effects of heroin, cocaine or other illicit street drugs, they might not have heard of the dangers of synthetic drugs yet.
Furthermore, sometimes the packaging of these drugs claims that the contents are “natural.” In actual fact, there may be some dried leaves inside, but there are often many dangerous chemicals included as well to facilitate the user’s high experience.
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How to Respond
Ultimately, it’s important to ensure that your teen is properly up to date and educated on current drug trends so that they have a full understanding of risks involved. Unfortunately, dealers of synthetic drugs have the benefit of users having a lack of knowledge about these substances. As a parent, you can help to prevent this by educating yourself and your teen on the risks of synthetic drugs.
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