Designer Drug Addiction and Rehabilitation

Designer Drug Addiction Rehab Header
Last Edited: March 17, 2020
Patricia Howard, LMFT, CADC
Clinically Reviewed
Edward Jamison, MS, CAP, ICADC, LADC
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and certified by an addiction professional.

Dangers of Designer Drugs Abuse

Designer Drugs are loosely defined as drugs that are produced illegally in labs, referring to a large range of synthetic substances. While many use the term to describe all drugs made synthetically in labs, encompassing typical Club Drugs like MDMA, Designer Drugs more specifically can refer to synthetic analogs of known illicit drugs.

Analogs are different chemical structures that have been created to incite effects that mimic those of common illicit drugs like MDMA, Opiates, Amphetamines, Marijuana, LSD, and so on. Some examples that are well known are Bath Salts, Spice, 2CE and 2CP, but there are many more. Often, these are created to avoid detection as drugs so that they can be sold or taken without legal consequences.

Designer Drugs can be incredibly dangerous to consume because they are not regulated, haven’t been studied much, and can be unpredictable in terms of effects and doses. Overdose resulting in death is possible with use and abuse of Designer Drugs, and there are many severe adverse effects such as psychotic episodes, dissociative identity issues and more.

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Street Names for Designer Drugs

Due to how many different Designer Drugs exist and how much they vary, there are endless street names, here are a few: Disco Biscuits (Quaaludes; MDMA), Ecstasy (MDMA), ET (Alpha-ethyltryptamine), Fantasia (Dimethyltryptamine), Forget Pill (Rohypnol), Catnip (Methcathinone), Special K (Ketamine), Venus (Nexus).

Designer Drugs Effects

Designer Drugs are many different synthetically made drugs, their effects vary. Typically, these drugs mimic one of the main categories of illicit and pharmaceutical drugs: Opioids, Amphetamines, Cannabinoids, Psychedelics, Hypnotics and Steroids. Designer Drug that are marketed as uppers can produce euphoria, heightened energy, elevated heart rate and desire for physical activity, as well as psychotic behavior, paranoia and anxiety. Others that resemble downers can cause drowsiness, relaxation or sedation, lack of motor control, slow reaction time, confusion and slurred speech. Others still can cause delusional beliefs and delirious behavior, hallucinations, altered state of consciousness and perception of reality.

Warning signs of Designer Drugs abuse in a loved one

If you are concerned that a loved one is abusing Designer Drugs, there are many signs to look out for. As these drugs are often associated with clubbing and raves, if your loved one is going to huge dance parties and raves frequently, he or she may be abusing Designer Drugs. While the effects vary, someone who is abusing Designer Drugs will likely withdraw from friends and family or lose interest in the activities he or she used to enjoy.

Designer Drugs are a rising issue in the United States, as more and more continue to be made. Often, these drugs are distributed online or in head shops as allegedly legal substances, which gives the false impression to many individuals that they are safe.

If your loved one has started going to raves, clubs or partying all the time, they may have an addiction to Designer Drugs. People who abuse these drugs may distance themselves from loved ones and submerse themselves in the party scene and friends who also use.

A typical sign that someone is addicted to Designer Drugs is frequent hangovers. He or she may stay in bed all day long after a night of partying, miss work or school and experience nausea and vomiting. He or she is also likely to show signs of depression.

Factual Dangers: Designer Drugs

One primary danger of Designer Drugs is that you never can be sure what exactly you are getting. It is common for many variations to all be sold under the same name. It is also typical for Designer Drugs to be sold in place of a familiar illicit drug, such as LSD or MDMA, when chemically it isn’t the same thing. With some types, Spice for example, it is impossible to measure how much you are ingesting. For these reasons, reactions can be unpredictable and dangerous.

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True Stories of Addiction


Designer Drug Rehab Treatment

The best way to deal with an addiction to Designer Drugs is to enter a rehab treatment program. There are multiple options that differ to accommodate for an individual’s personal needs, severity and length of abuse and addiction, and so on. Programs vary in length, some lasting only 20 days and others continuing for multiple months. Regardless of the kind of rehab you choose, the key elements will include one-on-one therapy and group therapy, physical health assessment and treatment, as well as addiction education. Often, there are alternative and holistic types of therapeutic activity and healing available.

You may live in a house or complex of units with other people who are in treatment. In this scenario, you will be transported daily to therapy sessions and other appointments. Alternatively, you can participate in a less immersive treatment program, transporting yourself to sessions and appointments.

In rehab, you will learn about addiction and how it affects the brain. Understanding the nature of your affliction is important to the recovery process. Once this is established, you can begin to work to get to the roots of your addiction problem by examining your personal history, family dynamics, emotional state and psychological state. You will identify your triggers for using and develop methods to cope with those triggers without using substances.

Designer Drug Detox Treatment

The first step to recovery from a Designer Drug addiction is to get off the substance you have been abusing. Detox can be a tricky thing with Designer Drugs because, depending on what kind you have been using, there may be little known about the specific symptoms of withdrawal from that substance. For this reason, it is best to medically detox in a safe and monitored environment with medical professionals on hand.

Withdrawals can be very dangerous, especially after long-term abuse, depending on the specific substance. When withdrawal symptoms are not life-threatening, they are still painful and uncomfortable. Often, you will experience shakes, muscle aches, weakness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, irritability, emotional instability, depression and anxiety. Sometimes psychotic or delusional beliefs and behaviors, as well as hallucinations, can happen to someone in withdrawals. Of course, if you have been abusing multiple substances, you may experience a broader spectrum of withdrawal symptoms. There are medications that can be helpful in soothing these discomforts. Detox is a very challenging experience to endure and a medical detox will ensure your safety and best possible level of comfort.

Addiction to Designer Drugs

Addiction happens to all different kinds of people, responsible, caring, intelligent, artistic, good people. It happens to parents and adolescents, to doctors and scientists. Addiction to Designer Drugs has wide possibilities because of how many kinds of Designer Drugs exist. Designer Drugs are prevalent on college campuses and are sometimes more available than other kinds. In the cases when these substances are sold in stores and online, seemingly legal, many individuals are likely to trust that they are safe to use. Other people use them because they don’t believe there are any legal consequences.

When a person abuses a substance with some frequency or consistence, a reward pattern is formed in the brain associated with using that substance. This reward pattern becomes so strong that the priority of using the substance supersedes other genuine cares and desires of the user. In this way, addiction changes the way that a person thinks, hijacking their agency to make rational decisions in favor of their own wellbeing. This is part of why addiction can be so difficult to overcome, especially without support and help.

The line between recreational use and abuse is a fine one, particularly in some scenes where using Designer Drugs is normalized. In the rave, clubbing, and party scenes, Designer Drugs use is considered trivial and recreational, but many become addicted.

Designer Drug Dependency

It can be difficult to know when Designer Drug abuse becomes a dependence. Most people don’t realize or don’t frame their substance use in those terms while the addiction is forming. When recreational use an abuse becomes dependence, there are some behaviors and feelings that may be an indication. Dependence, whether physical or psychological, is a perceived need for the substance. When it is physical, the body has adjusted to your substance abuse and now requires it to maintain equilibrium. Psychological dependence has more to do with emotional regulation and methods of coping. You may feel like you need the substance to feel normal or that you need it to deal with uncomfortable feelings and experiences.

Have you distanced yourself from family and friends? Have you withdrawn from activities you used to enjoy or be passionate about? Do you ever hide how often you use or how much of a drug you take? Have your actions ever been out of control while you are on a drug? Are you often irritable or anxious when you aren’t using? If the answer is yes to any of these, you may have a dependence.

It can be a great challenge to recognize the full extent of your substance abuse problem. If you think that you or a loved one may have an addiction to Designer Drugs or any other substance, give us a call and we can help build a path toward recovery.

Seeking help for a loved one

  • What Do I Say in A Designer Drugs Intervention?
    You will speak directly to your loved one, only speaking in love and concern while leaving out judgment or anger. Let him or her know the negative impact their Designer Drugs addiction causes you.
  • What If My Loved One Does Not Go To Designer Drugs Rehab?
    If your loved one does not accept Designer Drugs treatment, he or she will know there is help when he or she is ready. Keep showing them support without enabling your loved ones’ behavior.

Intervention for Designer Drugs Abuse

If you believe a loved one is suffering from an addiction to Designer Drugs, you may want to plan an intervention. People who have an addiction often feel alone in their struggle or that others no longer care about them. An intervention is a great way to show loved ones that you still care about them and are there for them, that you want to help them through this difficult transition.

A key to recovery is having a strong support system, because it is very difficult to overcome addiction on your own. Sometimes people who have an addiction don’t fully recognize the extent of their problem. An intervention can help them see how their substance abuse is negatively affecting their own lives and the lives of people close to them.

When you are planning an intervention, it is important to recognize what a delicate matter is at hand. If your loved one feels threatened, attacked, or judged, you many push him or her away and further into the addiction. Loved ones of people suffering from addiction often experience a lot of pain and strife; it is easy for them to allow their own hurt to interfere with the goal at hand by condemning the addicted loved one. An intervention must be performed in love and care, a true demonstration that the support needed for recovery is available. It may be wise to hire a professional Interventionalist to help you with this. Professionals are well versed in the best practices for success and can help you customize your intervention to the specific needs and circumstances of your loved one. – Learn More

Recovery from Designer Drugss Abuse

Sometimes recovery seems like an undefeatable challenge. You are up against some huge obstacles. The reward system that has developed in your brain has been hijacking your agency, possibly for years, which is incredibly frustrating and painful. You need to know that this is not your fault and that your situation is not hopeless.

People who suffer from addiction are fighters; they are strong and know how to survive. They have endured things that others may never be able to understand or relate to. Many people who have in your shoes are now celebrating their sobriety and freedom from substances. You can join them. There are so many resources available to you and people who want to help, people who care.

Many therapists in treatment have suffered from addiction and know what it is like. They have taken back their lives and want to help you to as well. You will learn about addiction’s effects on the brain to better understand what has happened. In one-on-one and group therapy sessions, you will explore your past, personality traits, and feelings to uncover the roots of your addiction. You will develop coping skills that do not involve using and identify your triggers, creating a plan for how to cope when you encounter them. You will meet other people in recovery who understand what you have been through. The friends you make in treatment, at meetings, or in any other programs, will be a key to sustaining your recovery. You will hold each other up and keep each other in check as time goes on.

Dangers of Designer Drug Overdose

If you believe that you or someone else has overdosed on any substance, contact emergency services immediately. Overdose is a common danger of using Designer Drugs. In severe cases, there is risk of seizures, stroke, heart attack, respiratory depression, coma, organ failure, severe brain damage and death. Of course, specific drugs have their own peculiar effects. An overdose on Ketamine, or a Ketamine analog, for example, can make you go blind.

Overdoes on synthetic Opiates and other downers will cause the Central Nervous System to become too depressed, so that breathing becomes shallow, slows, or ceases altogether. This may also cause the heart beat to slow or become irregular so that blood is not appropriately circulating and carrying oxygen through the body. An overdose of uppers causes passageways for blood to constrict, forcing the heart to work too hard to push blood through. This can result in hemorrhaging in the brain as well as heart attack.

Some Designer Drugs overdoses happen because the proper doses are impossible to anticipate. It is difficult to know how much of the actual drug you may be taking, which makes it easy to accidentally overdose. Often Designer Drugs are sold under the names of common drugs, also putting the buyer at risk. Many Designer Drug overdoses lead dangerous thoughts and behaviors. Many of these drugs haven’t been studied, the reaction have is somewhat unpredictable. Overdose on Designer drugs and any other substance is deadly and should not be taken lightly. – Learn More

More About Designer Drugs 

There are two takes on what defines a Designer Drug. Some people use the term broadly to refer to any drug that is made in a clandestine lab, which could refer to some very well-known drugs like MDMA or LSD. A different use of the term is to describe drugs that are analogs of known drugs, which means that they are different chemically—sometimes minorly and sometimes greatly—but aim to produce similar effects. Designer Drugs have been around for a very long time, in some cases created by scientists with the intention of developing a new medication that has similar chemical makeup to an existing drug, but less risks associated. Most commonly, though, these analogues are created illegally to supersede the law or drug detection efforts.

Often, these drugs are sold under the same names as the illicit drugs that they resemble while the user is unaware. An example of one of these analogues would be Methylone, an MDMA analogue. It is nearly the exact same chemical structure as MDMA, but contains an extra Oxygen atom. Despite this minor difference, the drug doesn’t cause nearly as much Serotonin to be released in the brain and so the effect is much less euphoric than that of MDMA. There are many different analogue drugs, imitating everything from LSD to Opiates.

Designer Drugs are highly associated with the party, rave, and club scenes in the United States. Ketamine, Rohypnol, Cocaine or Amphetamines, as well as synthetics of these are commonly thought of. Unfortunately, due to this, a culture of friendship and fun seem to surround some Designer Drugs. This can make them seem less harmful than other drugs and easy to abuse. When a person is part of a whole scene of people who abuse these drugs, it is easier to justify the abuse. Many people think it’s simply something recreational that they do for fun, or when they go out. Sadly, many of these individuals become addicted and experience dire consequences of that abuse.

The synthetic Cannabinoids, often called Spice, that began to grow popularity in the United States in 2004 are a kind of Designer Drug. Bath Salts are considered Designer Drugs as well. These are particularly notorious for their record of being allegedly legal and sold in head shops and online. As with many Designer Drugs, there are many different variations of these substances and the effects are very unpredictable. There have been many problematic and scary incidents attributed to people using these drugs. Because most Designer Drugs haven’t been studied very much, there is little understood about how some of them work and all their possible effects and dangers. It is easy to overdose on these drugs and experience severe reactions for these reasons.

Dangers of many Designer Drugs include heart attack, stroke, coma, brain damage, respiratory depression—when your breathing slows, becomes irregular, or stops altogether— and Central Nervous System Damage. Severe, and sometimes long-term, damage to major organs is another possibility. Kidney and Liver failure are commonly caused by long-term abuse of most drugs. Beyond this, the psychological consequences are myriad. In severe cases, individuals may experience long-term or persisting states of psychosis which may incite disturbing, delirious, or violent thoughts and behaviors. Many people who abused Designer Drugs, especially after long-term use, develop depression, anxiety, or other mood disorders.

Addiction to Designer Drugs also harms an individual’s social and personal life. Often, a people who have become addicted will distance themselves from family and friends. They may withdraw from the activities they once enjoyed and were passionate about. Addiction can inhibit productivity and success in a person’s career and cause personal relationships to deteriorate. When a reward system is formed in a person’s brain, using the substance will begin to take priority over other things that the individual may genuinely care about. Once these more personal aspects of a person’s life begin to fall apart, he or she is more prone to spiraling deeper into the sickness of addiction.

While it is a huge challenge to get off Designer Drugs, or any kind of substance, there are many resources available to people who are suffering from addiction. There are different types of treatment programs available, numerous kinds of therapy, sober living homes, medications to ease withdrawal symptoms, support groups, Twelve Step programs that incorporate sponsors and many alternative programs for people with different needs and beliefs. No matter what your circumstances are, you can get sober and sustain recovery from addiction. There are people who care about you, people who have been there before, people who have been trained and educated on how to help you. It is possible. If you are concerned about addiction in a loved one, there are things you can do to help. Give us a call to find out more about options for recovery. – Learn More

Short & Long-term Effects

There are five main categories of Designer Drugs: Stimulants, Sedatives, Hallucinogens, Empathogens, and Synthetic Cannabinoids. Stimulants can cause heightened energy levels, productivity, desire for activity, and suppressed appetite and need for sleep, elevated blood pressure, anxiety, paranoia, mania, and psychotic behavior. Sedatives cause drowsiness, slurred speech, cognitive impairment, poor coordination, slowed or shallow breathing and irregular heartbeat.

Hallucinogens cause altered perception of reality, inducing hallucinations. Dissociatives cause dissociation from self and the environment. These often cause psychosis and delirium which can be sustained beyond use in severe cases. Empathogens cause emotional and social response, producing feelings of empathy and love, but can also incite anxiety, malaise and feelings of overwhelm. Synthetic Cannabinoids cause drowsiness, relaxation, laughter, increased appetite. These can be unpredictable and sometimes cause anxiety and panic attacks, delusions, shock and more.

The long-term effects of Designer Drugs vary immensely, but often include clinical depression and mood instability. Some people suffer from sustained states of psychosis after use and other psychiatric conditions. Long-term abuse causes the deterioration of personal and professional lives. Addiction affects your personal relationships, productivity, mood, job and your ability to prioritize your personal moral code over using and any actions required to enable using.

Family Therapy

Family therapy can be helpful to the process of recovery as well as the overall well-being and happiness of an individual’s entire family. For many people, the family unit is the most foundational structure available to them and this makes it incredibly important to many people in recovery. When people who are overcoming addiction have a strong support system in place, they are much more equipped for the challenges they face.

Additionally, family members of people who have substance abuse problems often suffer a lot because of their loved one’s addiction. They may retain difficult feelings of guilt, blame and resentment that hinder the relationships within the family. Family therapy can help them process their feelings in a healthy way and help foster forgiveness and acceptance.

It is common for people with addiction to have experienced early traumas in life which can nearly always be traced back somehow to the family dynamic. When the family works through these things, better coping mechanisms can be established and a space is created for tension and resentment to be released so that the family can relate through compassion and empathy. No family is perfect and all families exhibit some degree of unhealthy dynamics that can result in discontent, hard feelings, distorted opinions of self-worth and, in more severe cases, trauma. Family therapy can help alleviate some of these common problems and give a family the tools to lift each other up which can be key, for some, in recovery from addiction.

True Stories of Addiction: Katie’s Battle with Addiction

Your loved one feels isolated and alone in their fight against their addiction. Give them the backup that they need. Holding an intervention for a loved one not only brings their problem to the surface, but shows them that people still care about them. They might be in denial with other people, but most people who have a substance abuse problem are not in denial with themselves. Deep down inside, they know they need help. If you show them that they have support if they decide to get that help, they will be more willing to go to rehab. Let them know that you are not giving up on them.

Find out More about your available options today (866) 578-7471

Inpatient Designer Drug Rehab

Inpatient Rehab can be a very helpful experience for people who are recovering from addiction to Designer Drugs. If you go to Inpatient rehab, you will attend one-on-one and group therapy sessions regularly as well as any necessary medical appointments. These programs typically last anywhere from 20 to 90 days, with studies showing that longer programs are the most effective. Since Designer Drugs are often abused with a greater community or party scene, it can be helpful to get some distance from those people and influences.

At Inpatient rehab, you will live in a house with other people in treatment. Therapy and other services are either provided at this location or you would be transported by the program to these services. There is often limited access to internet and other connections to the outside world, which allows for the distance needed to begin the healing process.

In therapy, you will explore your personal history, feelings and personality traits to uncover the root of your addiction. You will identify your triggers for using and develop coping skills that you can rely on when you encounter those triggers. You will form bonds and friendships with other people in treatment that you might hold onto for the rest of your life. These friendships can become additional support for you in recovery as you hold each other up and keep each other accountable. Inpatient treatment helps build a strong foundation of recovery so that you can succeed. – Learn More

Outpatient Designer Drug Rehab

Another option for people entering treatment is Outpatient rehab. If you go through medical detox, Inpatient is heavily advised because it better equips you to deal with withdrawal and impulses to use. For some individuals, outpatient is a better option because it is more flexible and malleable to outstanding circumstances.

In Outpatient rehab, you would live independently from the program and travel on your own to the offices where treatment services are provided. This makes it a less immersive experience, but for some that may be the right way to go. Everyone’s circumstances are different and you should pick the treatment program that works best for you. Similar to Inpatient treatment, you will attend one-on-one and group therapy sessions in Outpatient and programs last typically between 20 and 90 days. Beyond these aspects, structures of Outpatient programs can vary.

Outpatient rehab is good for people who can’t step away from certain responsibilities for long enough to go to Inpatient. They may have family obligations or classes that they must attend, and so on. Some find it helpful to first enter Inpatient to begin their recovery, and then move into Outpatient after that initial stage of treatment. It is important to put your own health and well-being first when choosing what kind of treatment program to enter. All relationships and responsibilities rest upon the foundation of your own health and welfare. Take time to decide what is best to you and what will ensure a sustainable recovery. – Learn More