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.