Opioids have been taking over the country and killing at alarmingly increasing rates. While the opioid crisis has shocked the nation, there are drugs that haven’t caused as many deaths but can still be just as deadly.
Even though legislation and discussions surrounding the issue of drugs have become more common but more frequently linked to marijuana and/or opioids, it is still quite taboo to talk about them – and that only worsens the scenario, since there are upcoming drugs that could spread like fire, and kill like it, too. Some of these less popular, but still lethal drugs that have become especially popular in Florida are:
Alpha-VPV, popularly referred to as “flakka”, is a drug similar and considered a “newer-generation version” of the popular “bath salts” (MDPV), which are illegal synthetic drugs. They look like crystalized small rocks that can be white or pink, which is why this drug is sometimes called “gravel” as well.
Flakka can be consumed in a number of different ways: smoked, injected, eaten, and even vaporized in e-cigarettes. They are considered a psychoactive drug like any other kind of bath salt, giving a high that is similar to cocaine, while being much more dangerous. Anyone who uses the drugs can display the following symptoms in short-time use:
- Rapid heart rate
- Extreme agitation
- Sense of euphoria
- Jerking and twitching muscle movements
- Delirious thoughts
- Extreme paranoia
- Violent behavior towards others and themselves
In most reported cases, users have displayed paranoid behavior, which triggered violent reactions, a state that is sometimes called “excited delirium”. While often compared to the effects of coke and crystal meth, the effects of flakka can be much more intense. Cases often involve users doing something dangerous or almost impossible to do on normal conditions, such as it was in the cases reported by CNN.
Long-term use of flakka has not been properly registered as it is a new drug. However, studies have shown that, because of the number of toxins present in it, flakka can cause serious damage to the liver from the hyperthermia caused by the drug. Additionally, it is likely that some of the effects on the neurological system can be so bad that they might cause permanent issues. The drug takes over the neurons in the brain and attaches to them for longer than other drugs such as cocaine, giving it more time to actually destroy the neurons.
The drug kratom comes from a tree of the same name, and it is an herbal psychoactive substance, mainly native to Southeast Asia. It is one of many herbs for which use has become more popular through the spread of information online since it was not common in the U.S. until now.
The drug was originally used in Thailand and Malaysia by laborers and farmers as they did hard work during the day, in order to boost their energy to handle the physical labor required while also relaxing the muscles. Other than that, it was also used as an opium substitute. Even though it was banned in Thailand in 1979, it is still consumed, and it is actually promoted as a legal substance in the U.S., too.
It is easily obtainable, although many do not know that they’re at risk of becoming addicted to it. Some bars sell this substance in drinks, and it is also sold at head shops, convenience stores, and online. People have either also chewed the leaves like it used to be done by labor workers, or made tea out of it.
Some of the most immediate side effects of kratom use include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dry mouth
- Increased urination
- Loss of appetite
- Respiratory depression
Its psychoactive effects are often overlooked by sellers and buyers, even though it has been used as an opium substitute originally. Therefore, some other symptoms a user might experience are increased feelings of euphoria, intense energy, talkativeness, and increased social behavior. In higher doses, kratom can bring on feelings of sedation and decreased pain, along with all the other effects listed.
However, long-term use of kratom might actually bring on a number of additional symptoms and health problems, such as anorexia, weight loss, insomnia, and darkening of the skin. It is, in fact, sometimes sold as a dietary supplement or a weight-loss drug. The main issue, however, is that once people use it, they can experience withdrawal symptoms as well once they stop.
Also called Black Mamba, Bliss, Bombay Blue, Fake Weed, Genie, K2, Moon Rocks, Skunk, Yucatan Fire, and Zohai, this drug is a mix of herbs or plant material mixed with synthetic psychoactive ingredients. Considered a kind of “synthetic/fake marijuana” because of the similarities of the substances in it to pot, its effects can actually be much stronger than usual weed. It is sometimes described as a “natural” drug, which is a false description considering it is sprayed with synthetic, man-made chemicals.
More often than not, they are usually labeled as “not for human consumption” in order to be disguised as potpourri or incense, because of how it looks. The drug can be consumed through smoking, either on its own or mixed in with other smokable substances, even actual marijuana. It can also be taken as a tea and smoked through a pipe or an e-cigarette.
As it is consumed, the synthetic cannabinoids bind to the same brain cell receptors as THC would, which is a type of mind-altering chemical. When they do so, they attach more strongly to these areas of the brain, which means stronger effects, and therefore, unpredictable consequences and duration. And what’s more, since production is not controlled, other substances can be present and affect the nervous system accordingly.
The short-term effects of using spice, as expected, are described as similar to pot, but with a few differences. Part of the symptoms that can be experienced when under the effects are:
- Altered perception (awareness of objects and/or conditions)
- Psychosis (feeling delusional or detached from reality)
- Accelerated heart rate
- Nausea and vomiting
- Violent behavior
Another issue with spice is the claim that it might not be addictive, as many also claim is the case with marijuana. Not only are many people prone to addiction with both drugs, but spice might be even more so depending on what it is being mixed with. Some of the people who might try to quit using the drug can experience strong withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches, anxiety, changes in mood, irritability, and even depression.
Vitamin K/Special K
These are just two of the many names used to describe ketamine (which include kitkat, super k, ket, horse tranquilizer/horse trank, cat valium, and others). Its original use was for anesthetic purposes, both by veterinarians and common practitioners. However, many started using ketamine recreationally for its effects. When it starts working, ketamine acts as a hallucinogenic dissociative drug, meaning it makes the user feel detached from their surroundings as well as produce psychedelic effects.
Ketamine is a drug that can be made into pills, powder, and liquid form. This way, it can be snorted, eaten/swallowed, injected, smoked (even with other drugs like marijuana), and mixed into drinks. Besides the effects, its versatility is another reason why ketamine is so popular at night clubs and parties.
However it is ingested, it will start taking effect very quickly, although the timing might be a bit different for each form it’s in. The quickest way for it to act is through injection, as it will take only 30 seconds. If snorted, it might take 5 to 10 minutes to work, and if swallowed, about 20 minutes. The effects should last anywhere between 45 to 90 minutes, and the most common ones are:
- Increase in energy
- Hallucinations (visual, auditory, sensory)
- Confusion and clumsiness/difficulty moving
- Increased/decreased respiration, heart rate, and blood pressure
- Slurred speech and blurred vision
- Anxiety, paranoia, euphoria, and panic
- Nausea and vomiting
- Lowered sensitivity to pain/numbness
- Severe dissociation, depersonalization
- Loss of consciousness
Besides these very symptoms, there is also the possibility of discomfort in the areas of your body where the drug went through – nose if the drug is snorted, injection site depending on where the ketamine was injected, and so on. As for the “hangover” effects, those tend to include aches, memory loss, impaired judgment, clumsiness, and even depression.
In the long term, there will be some symptoms that can be, to say the least, disruptive. Serious health issues might come from prolonged use, including:
- Poor sense of smell (if snorting)
- Mood and personality changes
- Poor memory, thinking, and concentration
- Ketamine bladder syndrome (incontinence and possible ulceration)
- Abdominal pain
- Dependence and less sensitivity to ketamine (needing more to get the same effect)
- Financial and social problems
This designer drug’s technical name is 2C-1, meaning it is from the 2C family. Essentially, smiles is both a hallucinogenic and an amphetamine, so it has psychoactive chemicals that will give the user feelings similar to that of LSD or other hallucinogens. Some changes in the compounds in the 2C family drugs end up affecting the way the amphetamine acts on the body: while they usually give the user a “speedy” feeling, in the case of 2C-1, they will feel more introspective, albeit still euphoric.
2C drugs, in general, have been consumed for the same purposes as ecstasy and MDMA since the 90s and were eventually deemed officially illegal in the U.S. since 1998. Considered a club drug, it can come in a pill, powder, or liquid form. In fact, it has commonly been mixed in with candy as well, to be taken as an edible.
People who have taken the drug reportedly felt more energized and alert, much more aware of their surroundings, but they also experience sensory distortion and become extra sensitive to external stimuli such as bright lights, loud sounds, and touch. Among many of the risks when taking smiles, some of them are as follows:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Increased heart rate
- Panic attacks
- Severe psychosis
- Delirious states
Since it works in a way that is similar to LSD or ecstasy, there is a chance that, once the drugs wear off, they’ll feel low in mood, anxious, and tired after using smiles as they would with those two drugs. Because it is a psychedelic drug, people with a history of mental illness have a higher chance of suffering from long-term damage from using the drug.
Cases of addiction have not been properly studied or reported on as they should, but when looking at the ingredients in the drug, it is highly likely that one can become addicted to it. While hallucinogens themselves might not get people addicted often, the amphetamine can trigger a sense of a need. And since it is similar to methamphetamine, its effects can also be just a deadly, and cases of overdose have been reported.
No Matter The Drug, You Can Get Clean By Getting Help
As new drugs come up in the market and addicts are exposed to them, it is important that medicine and health professionals keep themselves updated on the new dangers out there. We at Amethyst Recovery Center are always doing our best to provide services for all addictions known and the ones that are still new.
We have programs that are not just focused on the detoxification necessary to get clean, but also on giving the support needed for a former user to stay that way. From behavioral therapy to anger management and many other programs, we give you the tools needed to adapt to the world while keeping a healthy lifestyle, free from drugs. Visit our website and contact us at your convenience – we have a team of professionals available to you 24/7, so they can answer any questions you might have and help you make that first decision that will be the beginning of your new life.