Amphetamine is a psychostimulant drug of the phenethylamine class that causes increased wakefulness and focus in association with decreased fatigue and appetite. Brand names of drugs that contain, or metabolize into, amphetamine include Adderall, Dexedrine, Dextrostat, Desoxyn, Didrex, ProCentra, and Vyvanse, as well as Benzedrine or Psychedrine in the past. The drug is also used recreationally and as a performance enhancer. Recreational users of amphetamine use several street names for amphetamine, such as “speed,” “meth,” “crank” and “go fast.”
Amphetamine use increases heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, breathing rate and dilates the pupils. Other effects include temporary hyperactivity, insomnia, anorexia and tremors. High doses or chronic us have been associated with increased nervousness, irritability, paranoia, confusion, anxiety and aggressiveness. It can also cause irreversible damage to blood vessels in the brain, producing strokes. Death can result from hyperthermia, convulsions and cardiovascular collapse. Chronic, high-dose amphetamine abusers are susceptible to violent and erratic behavior, hallucinations, and a psychosis similar to schizophrenia. Psychotic episodes may occur for months or years after amphetamine abuse has stopped. The neurotoxic effect of amphetamines cause damage severe to brain cells that contain dopamine. Over time, reduced levels of dopamine can result in symptoms like those of Parkinson’s disease, a severe movement disorder.
Other side effects that may occur due to speed abuse include memory loss, severe dental problems (often called “meth mouth”, where the users’ teeth rot from the inside out), weight loss, and malnutrition.
Withdrawal from amphetamines may produce severe depression, anxiety, fatigue, and a powerful craving for more of the drug. Many of the health hazards from chronic use of amphetamine appear to be at least somewhat reversible. Recovery of dopamine transporter activity has been shown on brain neuroimaging studies after roughly 2 years. Motor skills and verbal memory tests showed some recovery, but not all changes have been shown to reverse.
The National Household Survey on Drug Abuse estimated that the number of recent new users of amphetamines among persons aged 12 or older was 105,000 in 2010, which was similar to the 2009 estimate (154,000), but lower than the 2002 to 2007 estimates (ranging from 157,000 to 318,000).
Barbiturates were first prescribed for medical use in the early 1900s. Since then, more than 2,500 barbiturates have been synthesized, and at the peak of their popularity, about 50 were marketed for human use. Today, only about a dozen are still in medical use. Barbiturates induce a broad spectrum of central nervous system depression, from mild sedation to coma, and have been used as sedatives, hypnotics, anesthetics, and anticonvulsants. The primary difference among these drugs is how quickly they produce the desired effect, and the duration of those effects. Barbiturates are classified as ultrashort, short, intermediate, and long-acting.
The ultrashort-acting barbiturates induce anesthesia within about one minute after intravenous administration. Those in current medical use are the Schedule IV drug methohexital (Brevital®), and the Schedule III drugs thiamyl (Surital®) and thiopental (Pentothal®). Barbiturate abusers typically prefer the Schedule II short-acting and intermediate-acting barbiturates that include amobarbital (Amyta®), pentobarbital (Nembutal®), secobarbital (Seconal®), and Tuinal (an amobarbital/secobarbital combination product). Other short and intermediate-acting barbiturates are in Schedule III and include butalbital (Fiorina®), butabarbital (Butisol®), talbutal (Lotusate®), and aprobarbital (Alurate®). After oral administration, the onset of action is from 15 to 40 minutes, and the effects last up to six hours. These drugs are primarily used for insomnia and preoperative sedation. Veterinarians use pentobarbital for anesthesia and euthanasia. Long-acting barbiturates include phenobarbital (Luminal®) and mephobarbital (Mebaral®), both of which are in Schedule IV. These drugs take effect in about one hour and last for about 12 hours, and are typically usedfor daytime sedation and for the treatment of seizure disorders.
While barbiturate abuse may not be as common as some other drugs today, statistics show that it is still a significant health risk. About 9% of Americans will abuse a barbiturate at some time during their life. The increase in barbiturate abuse may be caused by the popularity of stimulating drugs (“uppers”) like cocaine and methamphetamines. The barbiturates (“downers”) counteract the excitement and alertness obtained from the stimulating drugs.
Unfortunately, many of today’s drug abusers may be too young to know about the death and dangerous effects barbiturates caused in the 1970s, so they aren’t aware of the risks of using them.
Bath Salts: A family of designer drugs, known by their street name as “bath salts,” contain substituted cathinones, which produce an effect similar to amphetamine or cocaine. The white crystals resemble legal bathing products like epsom salts, and are called bath salts and are often labeled as “not for human consumption” in an attempt to avoid prohibition. The number of calls to poison centers concerning bath salts rose to 6,138 in 2011 from 304 in 2010, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. More than 1,000 calls had been made in 2012 by June.
Users of bath salts have reported experiencing symptoms including headache, heart palpitations, nausea, and cold fingers. Hallucinations, paranoia, and panic attacks have also been reported, and news media have reported associations with violent behavior, heart attack, kidney failure, liver failure, suicide, and an increased tolerance for pain. Little is known about how many people use bath salts. In the UK, mephedrone is the fourth most commonly used drug among nightclub goers after cannabis, ecstasy and cocaine. Based on reports to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, use of bath salts in the US is thought to have increased significantly between 2010 and 2011. The increase in use is thought to be a result of their widespread availability and sensationalist media coverage.
Benzodiazepines are a category of depressants used to induce sedation or sleep, relieve anxiety and muscle spasms, and to prevent seizures. Benzodiazepines generally act as hypnotics in higher doses, anxiolytics in moderate doses, and sedatives in lower doses. Of the prescription drugs used in the United States that affect central nervous system function; benzodiazepines are one of the most commonly prescribed medications. Benzodiazepines are controlled in Schedule IV of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Benzodiazepines are classified by the Controlled Substances Act as depressants. Repeated use of high doses or; in some cases, daily use of benzodiazepines is associated with amnesia, hostility, irritability, and vivid or disturbing dreams, as well as tolerance and physical dependence. The withdrawal syndromes are similar to that of alcohol addiction and may require hospitalization. Abrupt cessation of benzodiazepines is notrecommended and tapering-down the dose eliminates many of the unpleasant symptoms.
Despite the fact that millions of prescriptions are written for benzodiazepines every year, relatively few people increase dosage on their own or participate in drug-seeking behavior. The few individuals who do abuse benzodiazepines usually maintain their drug supply by requesting prescriptions from several different doctors, forging prescriptions, or buying their drugs from others. Abuse is often associated with adolescents and young adults who take benzodiazepines primarily to get “high,” and is particularly common among heroin and cocaine abusers. The use of alcohol or any other depressant along with benzodiazepines can be life threatening.
Short-acting benzodiazepines are usually prescribed for patients with sleep-onset insomnia (trouble falling asleep) without daytime anxiety. Shorter-acting benzodiazepines used to control insomnia include estazolam (ProSom®), flurazepam (Dalmane®), temazepam (Restoril®), and triazolam (Halcion®). Midazolam (Versed®), another short-acting benzodiazepine, is prescribed for sedation, anxiety, and amnesia in critical care settings and prior to anesthesia. It is available in the United States as an injectable solution or as an orally administered syrup (primarily for pediatric patients).
Benzodiazepines with a longer duration are prescribed to treat insomnia in patients with daytime anxiety. These benzodiazepines include alprazolam (Xanax®), chlordiazepoxide (librium®), clorazepate (Tranxene®), diazepam (Valium®, halazepam (Paxipam®), lorzepam (Ativan®), oxazepam (Serax®), prazepam (Centrax®), and quazepam (Doral®). Clonazepam (Klonopin®), diazepam, and clorazepate are also prescribed as anticonvulsants.
Cannabis has psychoactive and physiological effects when consumed. Aside from a subjective change in perception and, most notably, mood, the most common short-term physical and neurological effects include increased heart rate, increased appetite and consumption of food, lowered blood pressure, impairment of short-term and working memory, psychomotor coordination, and concentration. Long-term effects are less clear.
While many psychoactive drugs clearly fall into the category of stimulant, depressant or hallucinogen, cannabis exhibits a mix of all properties, perhaps leaning the most towards hallucinogenic or psychedelic properties, though with other effects quite pronounced as well. There are no verified human deaths associated with cannabis overdose. Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug (15.2 million past-month users) according to the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). That year, marijuana was used by 75.6 percent of current illicit drug users (defined as having used the drug sometime in the 30 days before the survey) and was the only drug used by 53.3 percent of them. Cannabis can be habit-forming and the development of cannabis dependence in some users has been well established; its effects on intelligence, memory, respiratory functions and the possible relationship of cannabis use to mental disorders such as schizophrenia, psychosis, Depersonalization disorder and depression are still under discussion. The high lipid-solubility of cannabinoids results in their persisting in the body for long periods of time. Even after a single administration of THC, detectable levels of THC can be found in the body for weeks or longer (depending on the amount administered and the sensitivity of the assessment method). A number of researchers have suggested that this is an important factor in marijuana’s effects, perhaps because cannabinoids may accumulate in the body, particularly in the lipid membranes of neurons.
Cannabis is consumed in many different ways, most of which involve inhaling vaporized cannabinoids (“smoke”) from small pipes, bongs (portable version of hookah with water chamber), paper-wrapped joints or tobacco-leaf-wrapped blunts. Alternatively, the cannabis plant flowers may be finely sifted producing kief, a powder especially rich in the oil-glands or trichomes which contain the highest amounts of cannabinoids.
Cocaine is a powerful central nervous system stimulant. Its effects can last from 15–30 minutes to an hour, depending on the method of administration and dosage. Street names for cocaine can reflect its appearance or method of use (such as flake, snow, toot, blow, nose candy, her, she, lady flake, liquid lady, speedball, crack, rock). It can also describe its method of preparation, such as freebase. It is more popularly known simply as coke.
Cocaine increases alertness, feelings of well-being and euphoria, energy and motor activity, feelings of competence and sexuality. Athletic performance may also be enhanced in sports where sustained attention and endurance is required. Anxiety, paranoia and restlessness are also frequent. With excessive dosage, tremors, convulsions and increased body temperature are observed. Cocaine is currently the most commonly abused major stimulant drug in America, and it has become the drug most frequently involved in emergency room visits. As of 2008, about 15% of Americans used cocaine at some time in their life, 6% by their senior year of high school. As of 2008, 1.9 million Americans had used cocaine in the past month, which includes more than 300,000 people who used crack cocaine. The trend in drug abuse in the United States is presently multiple or polydrug abuse, and cocaine is no exception. Cocaine is often used with alcohol, sedatives such as diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), or heroin, as an upper/downer combination. The other drug is also used to moderate the side effects of the primary addiction.
A common myth is that cocaine is not addictive because it lacks the physical withdrawal symptoms seen in alcohol or heroin addiction. But cocaine does have powerful psychological addictive properties. When cocaine use is stopped or when a binge ends, a crash follows almost immediately. This crash is accompanied by a powerful craving for more cocaine. Additional symptoms may include fatigue, lack of pleasure, anxiety, irritability, sleepiness, and sometimes agitation or extreme suspicion.
In the past, people underestimated the how addictive cocaine can be. However, cocaine is addictive when addiction is defined as a desire for more of the drug, despite negative consequences.
GHB is a central nervous system depressant that is abused as an intoxicant. It has many street names, including “Georgia Home Boy”, “Juice”, “Liquid Ecstasy”, “Mils”, “G”, “Liquid X”, and “Liquid G”, as well as “Fantasy.” GHB has been used in a medical setting as a general anesthetic, to treat conditions such as insomnia, clinical depression, narcolepsy, and alcoholism, and to improve athletic performance. It is also used illegally as an intoxicant or as a date rape drug. Its effects have been described as similar to alcohol and ecstasy use, including euphoria, disinhibition, enhanced sensuality and empathogenesis. At higher doses, GHB may cause nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, agitation, visual disturbances, depressed breathing, amnesia, unconsciousness, and death. The effects of GHB can last between 1.5 to 3 hours, or even longer if large doses have been consumed. Consuming GHB with alcohol can be deadly as it can lead to vomiting in combination with unrouseable sleep, a potentially lethal combination. GHB can be easily manufactured at home with very little knowledge of chemistry, as it requires simply mixing GBL and an alkali hydroxide (such as sodium hydroxide) to form the resulting GHB salt. Due to the ease of manufacture and the availability of its raw ingredients, it can be produced in private homes by just about anyone.
Like alcohol and powerful benzodiazepines like Rohypnol (the trade name of a potent hypnotic benzodiazepine, flunitrazepam), GHB has been labeled as a “date rape drug.” The sodium form of GHB has an extremely salty taste but, as it is colourless and odorless, it has been described as “very easy to add to drinks” that mask the flavor. GHB can cause withdrawal syndromes such as insomnia, anxiety, and tremors. These usually subside within 3 to 21 days. The withdrawal syndromes can be severe, sometimes producing acute delirium, and may require hospitalization in an intensive care unit for management. The mainstay of treatment for severe withdrawal is supportive care and benzodiazepines for control of acute delirium, but larger doses are often required compared to acute delirium of other causes.
Hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic opioid developed from either of two naturally occurring opiates: codeine or thebaine, and it relieves pain by binding to opioid receptors in both the brain and spinal cord. When taken with alcohol, it can intensify drowsiness. It may interact with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAIOs), as well as other drugs that cause drowsiness. Hydrocodone and formulas containing it are marketed, in varying forms, under a number of trademarks, including Anexsia, Biocodone, Damason-P, Dicodid, Duodin, Hycet, Hycodan (or, generically, Hydromet), Hycomine, Hydrococet, Hydrokon, Hydrovo, Kolikodol, Lorcet, Lortab, Mercodinone, Norco, Norgan, Novahistex, Orthoxycol, Panacet, Symtan, Synkonin, Vicodin, Xodol and Zydone. Hycodan was the original trade name. Hydrocodone is often used to treat moderate to severe pain, and is also used as an antitussive to treat cough. Some common side effects include dizziness, itching, lightheadedness, nausea, sweating, drowsiness, constipation, vomiting, and euphoria. Some less common side effects are allergic reaction, blood disorders, changes in mood, racing heartbeat, mental fogginess, anxiety, lethargy, difficulty urinating, spasm of the ureter, irregular or depressed respiration, and rash. Hydrocodone causes many of the same side-effects as other opioids including euphoria, sedation and somnolence. Hydrocodone is one of the most common recreational prescription drugs in America. Common street names for Hydrocodone include: “hydros”, “dones”, “vics”, and “itchies”. Recreational hydrocodone use is particularly prevalent among teenagers and young adults because of the drug’s widespread availability.
Withdrawal symptoms may include, but are not limited to; severe pain, pins and needles sensation throughout body, sweating, extreme anxiety and restlessness, sneezing, watery eyes, fever, depression, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and extreme drug cravings, among others. Hydrocodone abuse has been increasing over the last decade. From 1990 the average consumption nationwide has increased by 300%. In the same period there has been a 500% increase in the number of Emergency Department visits attributed to Hydrocodone abuse with 19,221 visits estimated in 2000. In 1997, there were over 1.3 million Hydrocodone tablets seized and analyzed by the DEA laboratory system.
Lysergic acid diethylamide, also known as LSD, LSD-25, lysergide or acid, is a semi-synthetic psychedelic drug well known for its psychological effects, which can include altered thinking processes, closed and open eye visuals, synesthesia, an altered sense of time and spiritual experiences, as well as for its key role in 1960s counterculture. It is used mainly as an entheogen, recreational drug, and as an agent in psychedelic therapy.
LSD is non-addictive, is not known to cause brain damage, and has extremely low toxicity relative to dose, although in rare cases adverse psychiatric reactions such as anxiety or delusions are possible. It is produced in crystalline form and then mixed with excipients, or diluted as a liquid for production in ingestible forms. It is odorless, colorless and has a slightly bitter taste. LSD is sold in tablet form, on sugar cubes, in thin squares of gelatin, and most commonly, as blotter paper (sheets of absorbent paper soaked with LSD.
The effects of LSD are often unpredictable. Usually, the initial effects of the drug are felt within 30 to 90 minutes after ingesting it. The user may experience extreme changes in mood, feel several different emotions at once, or swing rapidly from one emotion to another. If taken in large enough doses, the drug may produce severe delusions and visual hallucinations. The physical effects can include dilated pupils; higher body temperature and sweating; nausea and loss of appetite; increased blood sugar, heart rate and blood pressure; sleeplessness; dry mouth and tremors. The user may also suffer impaired depth and time perception, with distorted perception of the size and shape of objects, movements, color, sound, touch and own body image. Sensations may seem to “cross over,” giving the feeling of hearing colors and seeing sounds. These changes can be frightening and can cause panic. Some LSD users also experience severe, terrifying thoughts and feelings, fear of losing control, fear of insanity and death.
An experience with LSD is referred to as a “trip” and acute adverse reactions as a “bad trip”. These experiences are long, with the effects of higher doses lasting for 10 to 12 hours.
Under the effects of LSD, the ability to make sound judgments and see common dangers is diminished, making the user susceptible to personal injury, which can be fatal. After an LSD trip, the user may suffer acute anxiety or depression, and may also experience flashbacks, which are recurrences of the effects of LSD days or even months after taking the last dose. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NHSDA) in 2010 reported that the percentage of the population aged 18 to 25 who had ever used LSD was 6.4%.
MDMA is an entactogenic drug of the phenethylamine and amphetamine classes of drugs. MDMA has become commonly known as “ecstasy,” usually referring to its street pill form, although this term may also include the presence of possible adulterants.
MDMA can induce euphoria, a sense of intimacy with others, and diminished anxiety. Some studies in the fields of psychology and cognitive therapy, have suggested that MDMA may have therapeutic benefits and facilitates therapy sessions in certain individuals, a practice for which it had formally been used in the past. Clinical trials are currently testing the therapeutic potential of MDMA for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety associated with terminal cancer.
For some people, MDMA can be highly addictive. A survey of young adult and adolescent MDMA users showed that 43% of users met the accepted diagnostic criteria for dependence, as evidenced by continued use despite knowledge of physical or psychological harm, withdrawal effects, and tolerance (or diminished response), and 34% met the criteria for drug abuse. Almost 60% of people who use MDMA report withdrawal symptoms, including fatigue, loss of appetite, depressed feelings, and trouble concentrating. The UN estimated that in 2008, between 10–25 million people globally used MDMA at least once in the past year. This was broadly similar to the number of cocaine, amphetamine and opiate users, but far fewer than the global number of cannabis users.
Effects reported by some users once the acute effects of MDMA have worn off include: anxiety and paranoia, depression, irritability, fatigue, impaired attention, focus, and concentration, drive and motivation, residual feelings of empathy, emotional sensitivity, and a sense of closeness to others, dizziness, lightheadedness or vertigo, loss of appetite, gastrointestinal disturbances such as diarrhea or constipation, insomnia, aches and pains, exhaustion and jaw soreness.
Methadone, German scientists synthesized methadone during World War II to make up for a shortage of morphine. Although chemically different than either morphine or heroin, methadone produces many of the same effects. Introduced into the United States in 1947 as an analgesic (Dolophinel), it is mainly used today for the treatment of addiction to opiates, such as such as heroin, OxyContin and Vicodin, but is also used to relieve moderate to severe pain that has not been controlled by non-narcotic pain relievers. Methadone is available in oral solutions, tablets, and injectable Schedule II formulations, and is almost as effective when administered orally as it is by injection. Its effects can last up to 24 hours, which permits once-a-day oral administration in heroin detoxification and maintenance programs. High-dose methadone can also block the effects of heroin, thereby discouraging the continued use of heroin by addicts under treatment with methadone.
Even when taken according to a doctor’s instructions, methadone can cause constipation, dizziness; drowsiness, dry mouth,; headache, increased sweating, itching, lightheadedness, nausea, pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site, vomiting and weakness. Chronic administration of methadone results in the development of tolerance and dependence. The withdrawal syndrome develops more slowly and is less severe but more prolonged than that associated with heroin withdrawal. Ironically, methadone used to control narcotic addiction is frequently encountered on the illicit market and has been associated with a number of overdose deaths. Addicts will continue to use methadone because they are not prepared to experience the withdrawal symptoms that they were originally attempting to escape when they tried to stop abusing opiates, such as such as heroin, OxyContin or Vicodin.
Continued abuse of methadone will cause the patient to develop a higher tolerance of it, thus needing a higher dose to achieve the necessary effects. This often results in users becoming stuck in a negative cycle of needing more and taking more, which then leads to a physical dependency on the drug.
Methaqualone is a sedative-hypnotic drug that is similar in effect to barbiturates, a general central nervous system depressant. The effects were first noted by Indian researchers in the 1950s and in 1962 methaqualone itself was patented in the US by Wallace and Tiernan. Methaqualone was introduced into the pharmaceutical market as non- addictive “sleeping pills” in 1965. Its use peaked in the early 1970s as a hypnotic, for the treatment of insomnia, as a sedative and as a muscle relaxer. It has also been widely used as a recreational drug, commonly known as Quaaludes, Sopors, Ludes or Mandrax. Effects can include euphoria, drowsiness, reduced heart rate, reduced respiration, increased sexual arousal (aphrodisia), and paresthesias (numbness of the fingers and toes).
Larger doses can induce respiratory depression, slurred speech, headache, and photophobia (a symptom of excessive sensitivity to light). An overdose can cause delirium, convulsions, hypertonia, hyperreflexia, vomiting, renal failure, coma, and death through cardiac or respiratory arrest. It resembles barbiturate poisoning, but with increased motor difficulties and a lower incidence of cardiac or respiratory depression.
Opiates are named because they are constituents or derivatives of alkaloids found in opium, which is processed from the latex sap of the opium poppy. The major biologically active opiates found in opium are morphine, codeine, and thebaine. Semi-synthetic opiates such as hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone are derived from these substances. Opiates are a class of drugs that include morphine, heroin and many commonly prescribed pain relievers. The National Institute on Drug Abuse explains that opiates have pleasure-inducing and pain-relieving properties as well as tranquilizing effects; however, due to an increase in tolerance, they may become highly addictive when taken for an extended period of time. The abuse of prescription painkillers and other opiates including heroin is on the rise in the U.S. The number of prescriptions written for opiates such as OxyContin , Demerol, Percocet and Vicodin has steadily increased in recent years and experts see a direct correlation between this and the incidents of abuse.
Combining Opiates with alcohol or other drugs could lead to an overdose. About 9% of the population is believed to misuse opiates over the course of their lifetime, including illegal drugs like heroin and prescription pain medications such as Oxycontin. Opiates can cause physical dependency. This means that a person relies on the drug to prevent physical symptoms of withdrawal. Some people even withdraw from opiates after having them prescribed for pain while in the hospital without realizing what is happening to them. They often think they have the flu, and because they don’t know that opiates would relive the symptoms, they don’t crave the drug. Early symptoms of withdrawal include: agitation, anxiety, muscle aches, increased tearing, insomnia, runny nose, sweating and yawning. Late symptoms of withdrawal include: abdominal, cramping, diarrhea, dilated pupils, goose bumps, nausea, vomiting.
Oxycodone the analgesic ingredient, Oxycodone, is a semi-synthetic narcotic with effects similar to those of morphine; the most significant is the impact on the central nervous system and organs composed of smooth muscle. It is synthesized from poppy-derived thebaine in an attempt to improve on the existing opioids: morphine, diacetylmorphine (heroin), and codeine. Oxycodone oral medications are generally prescribed for the relief of moderate to severe pain in cases such as such as childbirth, cancer, arthritis, surgery and fractures. When this drug is taken repeatedly over a long period of time, dependency can develop. This is due to the fact that tolerance is developed and larger doses are necessary in order to receive the same effect. Even when it is taken as prescribed by the doctor, side effects can include: constipation, nausea, dry mouth, excessive sweating and headaches.
This drug is formulated either as single ingredient products or compounded products, such as oxycodone with acetaminophen/paracetamol or NSAIDs such as ibuprofen. The formulations are available as generics but are also made under various brand names. OxyContin is Purdue Pharma’s brand for time-release oral oxycodone. It is also known by several other names including: Percocet, Tylox, Percodan and OxyContin.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reports that approximately 1.9 million people in the United States have taken Oxycodone, at one point or another, in illicit ways. This drug gives the abuser a euphoric feeling which as a result lessens anxiety. This is the main reason that many people abuse this drug. In addition, the ease in availability of the drug has also led to more people abusing it, especially teenagers and young adults. The use of alcohol or any other depressant along with benzodiazepines can be life threatening.
Phencyclidine, also known as PCP or angel dust, is a recreational dissociative drug. Formerly used as an anesthetic agent, PCP exhibits both hallucinogenic and neurotoxic effects. PCP began to increase in popularity as a recreational drug in major cities in the United States during the 1960s. In 1978, People magazine called PCP the country’s “number one” drug problem. Although recreational use of the drug has always been relatively low, it began declining significantly in the 1980s. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2009, 122,000 Americans age 12 and older had abused PCP at least once in the year prior to being surveyed. Low doses produce numbness in the extremities and intoxication, characterized by staggering, unsteady gait, slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, and loss of balance. Moderate doses will produce analgesia and anesthesia. Higher doses may lead to convulsions or even death.
Psychological effects include severe changes in body image, loss of ego boundaries, paranoia and depersonalization. Hallucinations, euphoria, suicidal impulses and aggressive behavior are reported. The drug has been known to alter mood states in an unpredictable fashion, causing some individuals to become detached, and others to become animated. Intoxicated individuals may act in an unpredictable fashion, possibly driven by their delusions and hallucinations. PCP may induce feelings of strength, power, and invulnerability as well as a numbing effect on the mind. Occasionally, this leads to bizarre acts of violence.
Synthetic Cannabinoids (K2/Spice), Synthetic cannabis, also known as K2 or Spice, is a psychoactive designer drug developed from natural herbs and synthetic chemicals that simulate the pleasurable effects of cannabis. There is controversy about calling Spice and K2 synthetic cannabis because the ingredients contained in these products are mimics, not duplicates of THC.
When synthetic cannabis blends first hit the market in the early 2000s, it was believed that they produced their effects through a mixture of legal herbs. Laboratory analysis showed that this was not the case, and that they in fact contained synthetic cannabinoids that act on the body in a similar way to cannabinoids naturally found in cannabis, such as THC. A large and complex variety of synthetic cannabinoids, most often cannabicyclohexanol, JWH-018, JWH-073, or HU-210, are used in an attempt to avoid the laws that make cannabis illegal, making synthetic cannabis a designer drug. It has been sold under various brand names, online, in head shops, and even at some gas stations.
Though its effects are not well-documented yet, extremely large doses may cause negative effects that are in general not noted in cannabis users, such as increased agitation and vomiting. Professor John Huffman, who first synthesized many of the cannabinoids used in synthetic cannabis, is quoted as saying, “People who use it are idiots. You don’t know what it’s going to do to you.” A user who consumed 3 g of Spice Gold every day for several months showed withdrawal symptoms, similar to those associated with withdrawing from the use of narcotics. Doctors treating the user also noted that his use of the product showed signs associated with addiction.
Another case has been reported where a user, who had previously suffered from cannabis-induced recurrent psychotic episodes, suffered reactivation of his symptoms after using Spice. Psychiatrists treating him have suggested that the lack of an antipsychotic chemical, similar to cannabidiol found in natural cannabis, may make synthetic cannabis more likely to induce psychosis than natural cannabis.