The U.S. continues to see a distressing escalation in synthetic drug abuse cases. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in its National Drug Threat Assessment Summary reported a substantial increase in the number of calls to poison control centers related to synthetic cathinones from 2010 (304 calls) to 2011 (6,136 calls).
The alarming rise in these cases may be attributed to the accessibility of these drugs and the lack of effective legislation to suppress their use and availability.
Here are some of the most commonly abused synthetic drugs in the country:
These are sold as bath salts
, which physically resemble fine powder intended for bath use but are contained in smaller packages and labeled as not for human consumption. Despite this caption, manufacturers of these so-called bath salts designed the product for ingestion and not bathing.
While most of the chemical components of bath salts are already banned, manufacturers have found creative ways of combining the same with other elements to confuse the authorities and give the substance the guise of legality.
Synthetic Marijuana / Cannabinoids
These are usually sold as herbal incense, potpourri and e-cigarette fluids. The more popular brands include K2 and Spice
, although the market has already seen newer brand varieties.
Synthetic marijuana is packaged as common potpourri used for aromatherapy. However, it is really intended to be smoked because the dried plant material has been sprayed with chemical compounds that imitate the effects of 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana.
The popular street names for MDMA
are ecstasy or love drug, which may come in tablet or capsule form and in different colors and designs.
MDMA first emerged in the 80s during the height of disco culture. The use of MDMA remains prevalent today among partygoers due to its known effects of increased euphoria.
Although the U.S. Congress has intensified efforts to regulate and ban the chemicals used in the production of synthetic drugs
following the passage of the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act in 2012, these enforcement strategies struggle to keep up with the ingenuity of manufacturers adept at escaping detection and punishment.