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What are synthetic drugs, and are they dangerous?

Synthetic drugs are referred to as designer or club drugs and are created in a lab to mimic the effects of other drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, or even morphine.  Designer drugs have different and unique effects on the brain and behavior of the person using them. These drugs are created in illegal labs, and the ingredients and potency of these drugs are difficult to predict.  There have been more than 200 identified synthetic drug compounds and over 90 different synthetic marijuana compounds. Most of the synthetic drugs that are found in the United States are made in foreign countries and smuggled into the nation.  Some of the common side effects caused by synthetic drugs include anxiety, aggressive behavior, paranoia, seizures, loss of consciousness, nausea, vomiting, and even death or coma.  

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid and is 80 to 100 times more potent than morphine.  There is pharmaceutical grade fentanyl that is commonly used to treat pain. However, the non-pharmaceutical fentanyl has been one of the most significant contributing factors to the opioid epidemic within the nation.  Fentanyl has been found added to heroin, cocaine, and even marijuana. Someone who is using heroin may be using a lethal dose of fentanyl. Synthetic marijuana has also become popular in the United States, and these compounds are known as cannabinoids.  There are over 90 different synthetic marijuana chemical compounds that have been produced. Synthetic marijuana has continually made new headlines in the country because of the dangerous adverse reactions young people have had.  

Forms of synthetic LSD are also available, and this is phenethylamine and mimics the effects of LSD causing hallucinations and paranoia.  Synthetic stimulants or cathinones mimic the effects of ecstasy or MDMA, and drugs such as bath salts are unpredictable and cause dangerous adverse reactions.  Synthetic PCP mimics the effects of PCP and causes delusions, psychosis, and an intense feeling of being detached from your body. These types of drugs are extremely dangerous and do create addiction.  The unpredictable nature of these drugs increases the risk of overdose and severe health complications. Synthetic drugs have different chemical structures to the illicit substances they are trying to mimic.  These drugs are often marketed as being legal, safe and acceptable alternatives to illegal drugs, which is why they have become appealing to young people.

Most synthetic drug use is recreational drug use and is often part of a larger drug problem.  The type of treatment you would need for a synthetic drug problem includes detox and some type of inpatient or outpatient treatment.  Synthetic drug use is dangerous because of the various chemicals used to produce these drugs. When adolescents use synthetic drugs for the first time, they are often quickly admitted into the emergency room because of an adverse reaction.  Synthetic drugs have also become popular club drugs also leading to dangerous health problems and deadly overdose.

Club Drug Family Intervention and Addiction Rehabilitation

Club drugs are abused by teens and adults alike and are common recreational drugs. Even recreational drug use leads to addiction, and there are usually other drugs and alcohol involved. Substance abuse is a devastating problem and causes significant issues within the family dynamic. However, there are options for families and effective ways for them to help their loved one get the help they need. A family intervention is a gathering of close friends, family, and colleagues who meet to persuade a person to seek help or treatment for their addiction.

There are many reasons why family and friends might consider holding a family intervention for a loved one. Club drug abuse is a serious problem because these drugs are a combination of dangerous chemicals that cause overdose and death. Family intervention is a loving, considerate way to help someone seek the treatment they need. The best way to organize a family intervention is by hiring a professional interventionist. Family intervention gives the family a chance to let the addict know that there are people who are concerned about their well-being.

One of the most important aspects of an intervention is the people involved, and typically an intervention is a two-day process. The first day is spent with the family educating them about addiction and intervention. Moreover, an interventionist helps the family address underlying issues connected to the addiction like enabling and co-dependency. Old arguments within family dynamics are often a common barrier that prevents addicts from getting the help they need.

The second day is when the intervention takes place, and everything is organized on the first day. For example, the time, location, who attends, what is said, and the treatment center. Everyone involved in the intervention has a script and something to read. The purpose of an intervention is not to place blame or point the finger but to convey a loving and compassionate demeanor. An intervention should help the addict understand the importance of treatment and how it will benefit them.

Club Drug Rehabilitation and Treatment

The rehabilitation process for club drug addiction involves detox and inpatient or outpatient treatment. Typically, an addiction assessment is a good place to begin, and this could be done over the phone or in-person. The purpose of an assessment is to help the family or addict determine the extent of addiction and what treatment resources are available. This is especially important for adolescents who are abusing club drugs or any legal or illegal substance. Lengthy addiction usually requires residential treatment, such as long-term or short-term rehabilitation.

The first step is detox, and this process involves managing withdrawal symptoms and discomfort, and a conventional detox is an effective approach. Detox should not be the only treatment as it will not provide adequate counseling or therapy. Residential rehabilitation is the most effective to treat addiction because all the resources are provided in one location. Outpatient treatment centers require the patient to attend treatment daily while they live at home.

NIDA. “Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction DrugFacts.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 17 Jan. 2019,

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