Designer Drugs

Fooled you once, Now You’re Dead

My collegue John Moriarty in New Jersey has published a blog post warning of the dangers of fentanyl, a powerful drug that drug dealers in NJ are mixing into their products. It is a very important issue. Small doses of fentanyl can kill quickly.

But fentanyl isn't the only deadly substance being distributed by drug dealers. In one day, 15 people died of overdoses in one day Camden, NJ. Police say it wasn't fentanyl.

Fool me once, now I'm dead.

Drug dealers are in the business of profiting by exploiting the trust their customers place in them. Whether it comes sooner or later, the drug dealer will take everything he can, leaving the customer at great risk, or even dead.

You don't get a second chance at recovery if you're dead.

As we see more and more individuals become addicted to prescription pain killers, we see more driven to buy illegally, in order to obtain enough to sustain an active addiction and avoid withdrawal sickness. But buying illegally means doing business with a drug dealer. And drug dealers seek profits first, even if it means fooling the customer with a cheap, custom mix of chemicals that can kill.

We are here for those who need help 1-888-443-3869.


Home made Heroin : New recipe from Yeast?

Scientists are learning to make opiates (for morphene) using genetically-modified yeast, instead of more expensive poppy flowers.

Scientists are learning to make opiates (for morphine) using genetically-modified yeast, instead of more expensive poppy flowers.

Can heroin now be made at home, from yeast? And how big of a problem is this?

Scienists have been working to genetically alter yeast in order to find a cheaper way to develop opiate pain killers. Heroin is made from poppy, as are opiate analgesics such as morphine. If scientists can genetically modify yeast to replace poppy, they reduce the cost of producing these drugs.

Will they also create a new recipe for heroin that can be made at home, from something as simple as yeast? It's not likely, say those who know the science.

There are approximately 18 steps to chemically produce opiates. The process is complex and not fully understood. This new research accomplishes just one of those steps, and therefore scientists are not raising alarms about home-brewed heroin any time soon. The research causing a stir appears in DeLoache, W. C. et al. Nature Chem. Biol. (2015), and was reported in Nature (

Some law enforcement and some caring addiction professionals are asking society to “get out in front” of this development, to prevent such a nightmare scenario as cheap home-made heroin.

The Year in Synthetic Drugs — Spice and Bath Salts

We've heard a lot about the dangers of “Spice” and “Bath Salts” over the past year.  2012 was the Year of the Synthetics, and much ado was made about them.  Just how bad are they, really?  Will they make you eat people's faces?  (No)  Are they safe?  (Maybe, sometimes)  Are they a good idea (Not really).  Here's an article that every addict and recreational drug user needs to read, free of the media hype, and containing balanced information.

To begin with, bath salts—just like Spice and other cannabis spinoffs—are no longer legal. And many of the drugs found in bath salts appear to be addictive. Some carry known health hazards. And, although it was the desire to finesse drug testing that gave a major push to this new class of recreational chemicals, major bath salt ingredients can now be detected in routine urinalysis.

Read more at The Fix

The “Bath Salts” Problem Is Rapidly Getting Worse

It's no news that people want to get high.  The urge to turn off our brains for a while, or do something that just feels good, goes back at least 8,000 years.  We know that because the ancient Sumerians wrote about beer on tablets that have lasted until the present day.  There is every reason to believe that our romance with intoxication goes much farther back than that — probably to the time when one of our hunter-gatherer ancestors first discovered that spoiled fruit could give a guy a buzz.

So it's no surprise that entrepreneurs keep trying to stay ahead of the law by developing and marketing drugs that start off more-or-less legal due to the inability of regulators to keep up with the changes.  The way laws are currently written, if a drug isn't specifically mentioned in a statute it's pretty hard to prosecute someone for possessing it, and even harder to charge anyone who sells it.

Thus, we have “bath salts,” the current entrepreneurial emesis.  Unconcerned with details like clinical trials and the variety of other checks and balances needed to gain approval for mainstream pharmaceuticals, the manufacturers of these designer drugs make them available to a public that is absolutely at their mercy.  At the same time, web sites like “” and “” promote the alleged safety of the drugs as a “public service” (most of them actually designed to provide guidance to outlets that sell them online).

The active ingredients in most bath salts are the chemicals methylone, MDPV, mephedrone and flephedone.  Sometimes referred to as “copy-cat cocaine,” these drugs — all chemically-related — are central nervous system stimulants.  MDPV (Methylenedioxypyrovalerone), after which most of these drugs are modeled, is a modification of pyrovalerone, a drug that was investigated about 50 years ago for use as a weight control medication and to combat fatigue.  It never got to market because of its abuse and addiction potential.  MDPV is known to be several times as potent as methylphenidate (Ritalin), itself a drug with considerable potential for abuse.

Most of the drugs on the market today are analogues (slightly-changed chemical copies) of MDPV.  Thus they share its drawbacks, along with some of their own.  For example, the changes made in their structures to avoid legal issues are untested, and their effects largely unknown.  Furthermore, they are unstable when exposed to air, and often degrade into other compounds with unknown qualities.  Possible reaction with additives, packaging, or with compounds added by users, can create further complications — all problems unlikely to occur with regulated pharmaceuticals.  As a result, what you think you're seeing is not necessarily what you get.

We are beginning to see more and more headlines such as “Report: Bath salts killed Tampa man,” and “America's New Drug Problem: Snorting ‘Bath Salts'.”   We will see more, because problems with users of bath salts are becoming more common.  In one case, in Panama City, Fla., several officers were needed to subdue a man who tore a radar unit out of a police car with his teeth!

Bath salts are used because they promote euphoria, increased energy, sociability, wakefulness, and have some sexual stimulant effects.  On the other hand, adverse effects include (but are not limited to) rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, insomnia, nausea, tooth grinding, headaches, kidney pain, dizziness, agitation, difficulty breathing, and increased body temperature, chills and perspiration.  At least one death was caused when the MDPV analogue methylone caused the brain of a 23-year-old man to swell due to lack of oxygen, and an accompanying high fever that shut down his kidneys and other organs.  The possibility of drug use triggering and exaggerating users' existing physical or mental problems is yet another risk.  Nor is it a small one, as those with such issues are far more likely to resort to self-medication than others.

The solution, if there is a good one, will most likely be found in education combined with laws that are written to close the  loopholes that enable sale and possession of these drugs without fear of prosecution.  The Federal government is investigating the possibility of a nationwide ban on unchecked use of the components involved, which may make pursuit and prosecution of the manufacturers and sellers more practical.  As it is, substance abuse treatment personnel report more mentions of bath salts during intake, indicating use is on the rise.  Actual treatment protocols have yet to be established, however, and there is some question whether users of these “unofficial” drugs will qualify for insurance coverage.

More, as they say, will be revealed.  In the meantime, parents and other interested parties need to be on the lookout for possible drug-related behavior in loved ones, friends, and others they care about.  Until we get some sort of handle on this problem, these drugs — sold in convenience stores, gas stations, head shops and similar outlets — will remain readily available to potential users of all ages.


Synthetic drugs send thousands to ER

At the request of The Associated Press, the American Association of Poison Control Centers analyzed nationwide figures on calls related to synthetic drugs. The findings showed an alarming increase in the number of people seeking medical attention.

At least 2,700 people have fallen ill since January, compared with fewer than 3,200 cases in all of 2010. At that pace, medical emergencies related to synthetic drugs could go up nearly fivefold by the end of the year.

“Bath Salts” and “Incense” Are Seriously Bad News

I thought I'd write some follow-up on the subjects of “bath salts” and “incense,” since they are obviously impacting so many people.

K2, one of several mixtures often sold as "incense"

These compounds, commonly sold across the counter at convenience stores, gas stations, head shops and other such vendors, fall into the class of abusable compounds that we refer to as “designer drugs.”

Designer drugs mimic — or attempt to mimic — the action of other drugs that are either illegal or difficult to acquire due to legal requirements such as prescriptions.  In some cases, they are the result of attempts to improve on the originals.  Methamphetamine and Ecstasy (a derivitive) are well-known examples of such “improvements.”

It is possible to make minor modifications in the chemical formula of a drug while keeping its intoxicating characteristics.  Such modifications can render the drug legal, due to its failure to be addressed by the current Federal statutes, which were written far too narrowly and are thus relatively easy to work around.

The catch, so far as we are concerned, is that phrase “attempt to mimic.”  Even minor changes in a chemical formula can create major changes in the way it affects the human brain (and sometimes other parts of the body as well). Methamphetamine is a good example.  The addition of one carbon atom and three oxygen atoms to the compound amphetamine, a drug commonly prescribed for problems such as Attention Deficit Disorder, results in a drug that is far more psychoactive, more addictive, and more difficult to “kick” once the user becomes hooked. While this is a good thing for drug dealers, who value repeat business, it's really hard on their customers.  Meth, or Crystal Meth, is a bad trip almost from the beginning.

In the case of “incense,” (fake marijuana) and “Bath Salts,” these minor modifications have created a monster. The several compounds that were created are not only intoxicating, they are toxic, in a big way. In both cases, people have suffered extreme side effects, up to and including death and mental disturbance leading to suicide.

Until State and Federal laws are re-written in an attempt to include these “legal” modifications of controlled substances, we will continue to see more drugs of this class.  Some states have already passed laws making them illegal (Florida is one), but those laws may or may not hold up in court.  In the meantime, education and vigilance on the part of parents and partners is the only real defense.

FL Atty General Bans “Bath Salts” Sale

Courtesy Bay Co. Fla. Sheriff's Dept.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi on Wednesday temporarily banned a synthetic designer drug called MDVP that is commonly labeled “bath salts.”

Officials say the complex drug, sold at malls, head shops, convenience and other retail outlets, often near displays of energy drinks, can produce hallucinations, severe paranoia, seizures, aggression, increased blood pressure and eventually kidney failure.

Read more:

Sale or possession is now a felony!