Synthetic drugs are a group of compounds designed to mimic the effects of their illicit counterparts. Often the untested unregulated compounds produce side effects which are far worse and more dangerous than the drugs they are designed to mimic.
Many of the chemicals used in these drugs are manufactured overseas and imported into the United States in bulk, often claiming to be industrial cleaners or solvents. Once they arrive in the United States they are packaged and marked as “not for human consumption”, thus bypassing federal drug laws and allowing their legal distribution all over the country.
There are two main types of synthetics, those which are sprayed on plant matter and marketed as a replacement for marijuana, and crystallized versions marketed as “bath salts”. Both types of drugs are similar in chemical composition and differ only in the way they are delivered to the body.
Synthetic Marijuana also known as “Spice” or “K2” is smoked and produces a highly euphoric and dissociative effect on the user. The dissociative nature of the drug is what makes these drugs much more dangerous than real marijuana because users feel disconnected from their bodies and experience reality differently than those around them. This can lead to violence to others and themselves. Users report experiencing a dream like state where nothing around them seems real.
Bath Salts are usually crushed and snorted by the user and the dissociative effects of this route of ingestion heighten the feeling that nothing is real. Users can completely disassociate and behave in strange and dangerous ways. The zombie-like state that many users experience is what is most often reported, but users can also be violent and completely aware. They are often paranoid and have very vivid hallucinations.
Part of the reason that these drugs are still sold is that parents and other loved ones assume that since they are being sold in stores that the effects cannot be that bad. This is a deadly mistake, the reality is that the effects of these drugs are many times worse than the effects of most illicit street drugs.