Synthetic Drugs: The Constant Search for a New Way to Get High


Synthetic drugs are man-made chemicals that drug users consume to get a cheap, legal high. In the past few years, the various types of synthetic drugs has risen quite substantially. K2, Spice, bath salts, 2CI and 2CB are just a few of the potent synthetic chemicals available for purchase at head shops and gas stations across America. K2 and Spice are synthetic cannabinoids; bath salts, 2CI and 2CB gives an intense LSD-type hallucinogenic experience while also mimicking the effects of methamphetamine. What makes these drugs especially dangerous is that they cannot be easily detected in urine, the effects of chronic use are unknown and fatal overdoses occur easily. They also can become very tempting for people in recovery for drug addiction.

According to the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, the use of synthetic cannabinoids is alarmingly high, especially among young people. According to the 2012 Monitoring the Future Survey of youth drug-use trends, one in nine 12th graders in America reported using synthetic cannabinoids in the past year. This rate, unchanged from 2011, puts synthetic cannabinoids as the second most frequently used illegal drug among high school seniors after marijuana (

Why Are Synthetic Drugs So Dangerous?

Synthetic drug manufacturers are constantly searching to find new ways to get legal highs. Every time the US Government and the DEA get ahold of a synthetic drug and ban it’s production and use, manufacturers tweak the chemical to create a new, similar chemical that is not yet banned. Once that chemical is banned, another is tweaked and a new one created again. This cycle repeats itself over and over until the original chemical has been so completely bastardize that no one really knows what it is, how it affects the body and mind or what long-term effects of usage are.

These drugs can be very popular amongst recovering drug addicts who are subjected to random urine drug testing. Since these synthetic chemicals are rarely detectable through traditional drug screening, individuals will use them to be able to get high without getting caught. These chemicals and their elements are mostly unknown so their consumption turns into a very dangerous situation. These synthetic chemicals can cause a person to relapse back onto their drug of choice or overdose on the chemicals, incapacitating them for life or ending it altogether.

The abuse of synthetics is not only dangerous and potentially addictive to the user, it can be fatal for children or people in the vicinity. In Washington State, bath salts abuse resulted in the deaths of a four-year-old boy and both parents and a teen in Minneapolis who died after overdosing on a drug just referred to a 2C-E. A mother in Kentucky who had used bath salts tried to kill her two-year-old when she became convinced he was a demon, but he survived. A Hawaiian man used Spice (synthetic cannabis) and then tried to throw his girlfriend off an eleventh-floor balcony (

If you know of someone who is abusing synthetic drugs, the best advice is to intervene and get them help immediately. Since these drugs are hard to test for you may not be able to pin the user “against the wall” and confront them on getting help. Pool as many resources as you can to get the person the proper treatment — treatment that will detox the synthetic chemicals out of the body and handle the root causes of the addiction.


Jason Good

Jason has been working in the field of addiction and recovery for over 10 years. Having been an addict himself he brings real-word experience to the table when helping addicts and their families, while also offering a first-person perspective to the current drug crisis. Jason is passionate about educating the public about what’s currently going on in our society, and thankfully, offers practical solutions. Jason is also the co-host of The Addiction Podcast—Point of No Return. You can follow Jason on Google+, Twitter, or connect with him on LinkedIn.