Emergency departments across the country have seen a steady rise in synthetic drug related cases, commonly involving what are known as synthetic cannabis. While the name may cause people to think of marijuana, the effects of synthetic cannabinoids are both unpredictable and dangerous. The side effects associated with the use of such compounds, sold under the name “K2” or “Spice” are frightening to say the least. That being said, it begs the question, why would people use substances with side effects which cannot be anticipated?
Synthetic marijuana, unlike traditional cannabis in most states, teeters on the line of legality. Meaning, it is easy to buy and use synthetic drugs because chemists are constantly altering the formula to stay ahead of government bans. What’s more, the chemicals found in synthetic cannabis can’t be detected by most standard drug tests, which is appealing to young people and those working in professions that drug test randomly. When you add that together with how inexpensive synthetic drugs are, it is easy to see why some people would be drawn to those forms of drugs.
SCB vs THC
Synthetic marijuana, and its effect on the human body, is far from understood by scientists. Ironically, researchers developed synthetic cannabinoids (SCB) in order to better understand the effect of the main psychoactive ingredient (THC) found in traditional cannabis on receptors in the brain, Cell Press reports. Researchers from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) point out that while SCBs activate the same brain receptors as THC, SCBs are not only different from marijuana—they are chemically distinct from one another. In a Review published in Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, the researchers write of synthetic marijuana:
“SCBs are falsely marketed as safe marijuana substitutes. Instead, SCBs are a highly structural diverse group of compounds, easily synthesized, which produce very dangerous adverse effects occurring by, as of yet, unknown mechanisms. Therefore, available evidence indicates that K2/Spice products are clearly not safe marijuana alternatives.”
Paul L. Prather, a cellular and molecular pharmacologist at UAMS and his colleagues point out that SCBs have been associated with twenty deaths, according to the report. Clinical studies have identified both acute and long-term adverse effects of SCB, such as:
- Kidney Injury
Synthetic Marijuana Addiction
Those who use synthetic cannabis regularly are at risk of developing a tolerance and dependence on the drugs. Those who attempt to quit can experience withdrawal. If you or a loved one has been abusing synthetic drugs, please contact Synergy Group Services. Synthetic cannabinoids are extremely dangerous, given the fact that you have no idea what kind of side effects to expect. The next time could land you in the hospital, or worse.
The state of Florida has, arguably, been the epicenter of synthetic drug use in the United States. Dangerous, borderline legal chemicals which are sprayed on benign plant matter or crystalline “bath salts” have become somewhat of a scourge in the South Florida region. The most commonly used comes in a form usually referred to as synthetic marijuana—which is a far cry from actual cannabis. Both doctors and the users of synthetic cannabis, sold under the names Spice and K2, will tell you that the side effects witnessed and experienced are quite different than the effects produced by smoking traditional weed.
Just over a year ago we discussed a synthetic drug known as “Flakka” (alpha-PVP) which is chemically similar to bath salts (MDPV) that had been previously abused. In Florida, at the time, the use of Flakka had been linked to 18 deaths.
When it comes to the chemicals used to make synthetic drugs, one country often comes to mind—China. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration(DEA) has long been aware that the vast majority of synthetic drug chemicals are manufactured in China, where clandestine laboratories operate with relative impunity. Such facilities produce the chemicals inexpensively with little oversight—human testing is not a top priority. Meaning, drug users become human guinea pigs which can result in deadly outcomes.
While synthetic drugs like Spice and Flakka are of the utmost concern among lawmakers and law enforcement, the top priority in the U.S. is the opioid epidemic. Day in and day out opioid narcotics afflict millions of Americans and are responsible for over 70 deaths daily. If you have been following the news you are probably aware of the rise of a synthetic opioid known as fentanyl. The drug is meant to be used in hospital settings for the most severe pain. The drug is 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine, and as much as 50 times more potent than medical grade heroin (diacetylmorphine).
Over the last few years there has been a growing concern about mixing fentanyl with street heroin. Users of heroin are usually unaware that fentanyl is present within their bag of dope, an ignorance that has led to a significant number of overdose deaths. So why is fentanyl being mixed with heroin, a drug that can be potent enough for overdose on its own? Heroin is usually stomped on (mixed with benign adulterants) to increase profits—the more you have the more you make. Fentanyl is commonly mixed with weak heroin to up the drug’s strength.
What’s more, with each year that passes it becomes more and more difficult to purchase prescription opioids, such as oxycodone, on the street. The ingredients used to make fentanyl are inexpensive and be acquired with relative ease by Mexican drug cartels. Fentanyl analogs are manufactured in clandestine labs in Mexico and then pressed into pills that replicate an OxyContin tablet. Once again, China presents as the source of the chemicals needed to produce fentanyl. China does not regulate the sale of such chemicals which find their way to the Americas, The Wall Street Journal reports. Twenty-five grams of fentanyl costs about $810 to make, which amounts to $800,000 in pills on the street.
At Synergy Group Services, we specialize in treating addiction, we can help you or a loved one break the cycle of addiction and give you the tools necessary for sustaining long term abstinence from all mind altering substances.
At the end of November, Southern California saw a surge in medical emergencies linked to a bad batch of synthetic marijuana. Commonly sold under the brand name of Spice or K2, synthetic cannabinoid users often experience severe side effects that, without treatment, can be fatal.
On the other side of the country, the State of Florida has seen a dramatic rise in synthetic drug related incidents in recent years. The chemicals used to make these types of drugs are manufactured in China, and then sprayed on herbs or bath salts. When ingested, the chemicals produce a number of effects, such as hallucinations, increased energy, and euphoria.
Use of synthetic drugs has been associated with:
- Suicidal Tendencies and Attempts
- Homicidal Tendencies
- Chest Pain
- Heart attack
Until recently, synthetic drug manufacturers in China operated with little impunity. Producers of the chemicals have no oversight and do not conduct human testing before they sell their chemicals. After serious scrutiny from the United States and others, China banned more than 100 chemicals used to make synthetic drugs, The Miami Herald reports. Chemicals used to make alpha-PVP, better known as flakka, which has been abused all over South Florida as of late. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration reports that it is now illegal in China to distribute flakka, fentanyl, and other chemicals at home and overseas.
“The ban of the sale of the listed synthetic drugs will hopefully have a positive impact with regard to reducing the designer drug threat in the United States,” said Diane Boland, director of toxicology at the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s Office. “Only time will tell.”
On top the serious side effects produced by synthetic drugs, the substances can become habit forming, leading to addiction. If you or a loved one struggles with synthetic drug use, please contact Synergy Group Services. Our approach is rooted in a holistic mind, body and spirit approach, which blends traditional counseling and alternative medicine to achieve a synergistic outcome.
The side effects of synthetic drugs, such as Spice (synthetic marijuana) and ‘bath salts’ (MDPV), are often unpredictable and can be extremely dangerous. The chemical formulas of these types of drugs are constantly being altered in an effort to stay one step ahead of the authorities, which means there are very few (if any) human trials before the compounds hit the market.
One of the latest synthetic drugs that has been making the news headlines is known as Flakka (alpha-PVP). The new drug has had widespread use in the southern states, especially Florida. Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have found that alpha-PVP seems to be as equivalently potent as a stimulant, and therefore as addictive as the drugs cousin, MDPV, Medical Xpress reports.
“There have been assertions that flakka is somehow worse than MDPV, but this study shows that the two are very similar,” said Michael A. Taffe, an associate professor at TSRI.
However, study co-author Tobin J. Dickerson adds, “That doesn’t mean that flakka use is ‘safe’—our data show that flakka is as potent as MDPV, making it a very good stimulant, arguably with worse addiction liability than methamphetamine.”
Flakka, which comes in a crystalline rock form, can be consumed in a number of ways – it can be:
- Vaped in an E-Cigarette
While the side effects of Flakka use vary, users often show signs of:
- Extreme Violence
- Paranoid Psychoses
- Compulsive Nudity
- Zombie-like Behavior
- Superhuman Strength
Research is still being conducted on the long term effects of the drug, as well as the health problems that may arise from continued use. It is already known that Flakka can affect the kidneys, leading to kidney failure or death.
The findings were published in the journal Psychopharmacology.