Designer drugs are man-made, lab synthesized derivatives or imitations of naturally occurring (but illegal) substances. They are often street drugs, and likely include toxins and impurities, as well as additional chemicals which may not fully be known to the user. The formula may be created to circumvent current evade law enforcement.
There is, perhaps, an unknowable number of designer drugs available. However, the most popular usually fall into one of the following categories.
Types of Designer Drugs: Stimulants
Stimulants are drugs which excite the nervous system. Many are commonly known as “club drugs” and are used by young people in bars, clubs, and concerts. The desired effect is euphoria, sociability, exhilaration, distortion/enhancement of senses, and a general feeling of well-being. Side effects include increased heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature, in addition to anxiety and insomnia.
Included are ecstasy (MDMA), dimethocaine (less potent than cocaine), and cathinone-based based drugs such as bath salts (MDPV) and flakka. Cathinones are the active chemicals in the khat plant. Stimulants such as these also may function as hallucinogens.
Types of Designer Drugs – Opioids
Opiods are analgesics (painkillers) which are derived from, or function in a manner similar to natural opiates, such as from the opium poppy. The desired effect is pain relief, a general sense of well-being, and relaxation of the central nervous system. Opioids are extremely habit-forming, and may have serious withdrawal effect upon cessation, such as chills, excessive perspiration, restlessness, pain, and weakness.
Many designer opiates are analogs of Fentany, which is more powerful than both morphine and heroin. Included are a- methylfentanyl (China white) which is common among heroin addicts. Additionally there is 3- methylfentanyl, which may be found in compounds up to 6000 times more potent than morphine.
Types of Designer Drugs – Cannabinoids
Cannabinoids are synthetic drugs often structurally related to the psychoactive chemical in marijuana, THC. They act on cannabinoid receptors, which are found in both the brain and immune system. Like cannabis, they can be inhaled, smoked, and ingested in a manner of ways. The desired effect is relaxation, mild euphoria, and philosophical introspection. Side effects include anxiety, paranoia, panic attacks, and increased appetite.
The most popular designer cannabinoid, “spice” is sold as an herbal incense, and may contain HU-210, a cannabinoid much more potent than THC.
Types of Designer Drugs – Sedatives
Sedatives relax the central nervous system and often induce drowsiness and sleep. They are also considered hypnotics, and are traditionally used to treat insomnia or as anesthesia. Recreationally, they are also used to relieve anxiety and promote muscle relaxation.
However, designer sedatives are also used to incapacitate potential victims of sexual assault. They may also cause both paralysis and amnesia – thus rendering the victim unable to resist, or remember details of the experience the following day. This effect is exacerbated when combined with alcohol, a common occurrence.
Examples include rohypnol (roofies), GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate), and special K (ketamine). Ketamine is a powerful tranquilizer often used on animals, and in overdose, can cause coma or death.
If you or someone you know is abusing designer drugs, please seek help immediately.