Every year more and more synthetic drugs hit the streets and before anyone has a chance to test and warn the public of the potentially fatal reactions to those drugs, many teens have already gotten their hands on them.
According to the New York State Health Department, synthetic drugs are those “with properties and effects similar to a known hallucinogen or narcotic but having a slightly altered chemical structure, especially such a drug created in order to evade restrictions against illegal substances.” The Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) added “based on their chemical composition, synthetic drugs are commonly divided into two categories:
• Cannabinoids such as K2 and Spice. Synthetic Cannabinoids are chemicals that mimic the effect of THC, the primary psychoactive active ingredient in marijuana.
• Stimulants such as Bath Salts. Most synthetic stimulants contain chemical compounds that mimic the effects of cocaine, LSD and methamphetamine. (Similar drugs include MDMA sometimes referred to as “ecstasy”, “molly”)”
Increased danger of overdose
One of the major threats with synthetic drugs is the sloppy way in which they can be produced. Synthetic drugs found on the street are often cooked up in kitchens, basements, or sheds by those who do not have a pharmaceutical or chemistry degree. This can result in the active ingredient in the drug being too strong for someone to consume, resulting in an overdose. This overdose risk is even greater for teens whose lower body weight and minimal history of drug use make them more prone to adverse reactions to strong synthetic drugs.
Educate teens on risks
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “about 570,000 people die annually in the U.S. due to drug use. Parents and educators should find every opportunity to speak with teens about the risks of overdose and death associated with all drugs, and especially those synthetic drugs that are not regulated. For more information on helping teens with drug abuse issues contact the Utah Department of Health. For those teens facing criminal charges for drug use, possession, or distribution, contact a juvenile defense attorney.