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Designer Drug Substance Abuse

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When Abusing Designer Drugs Become an Addiction

The term designer drugs is used to describe an array of drugs that are synthetic analogs that are devised to circumvent drug laws. For example, adjusting the chemical makeup of a drug, such as a methamphetamine, can produce a drug that is similar in its effects, but that is not yet classified as an illegal drug. The point of designer drugs is to mimic the effects of a real drug. Designer drugs have evolved over time, and it is estimated that about 60 new designer drugs are created and introduced each year.

More laws are being put into place regarding these synthetic analogs, which will combat their production and keep them from falling into a legal gray area. People abuse designer drugs for various reasons all depending on the effects they desire to achieve. Designer drugs can be highly dangerous, as many of them are nothing but cheap chemical substitutes that can cause delusions, hallucinations, and out-of-control behavior.

Designer drugs like Flakka (a-Pyrrolidinopentiophenone), which is a highly toxic synthetic stimulant has outrageous effects on its users, contributing to severe delusions of grandeur and has attributed to what is almost described as a superhuman strength in the people who abuse it. Individualized treatment to address synthetic designer drug abuse can be truly effective and should be sought out as soon as possible to prevent further complications that may arise.

Individuals who abuse designer drugs deserve a chance to get better and to address the reasons why they are resorting to the designer drugs and learn coping skills for moving forward in life sober-minded and drug-free.

Designer Drug FAQs

Designer drugs are substances that are designed to mimic the effects of other drugs. Very often, designer drugs are manufactured to avoid becoming illegal or to pass drug tests.

There are no specific street names because designer drugs encompass a wide variety of different psychoactive chemicals, from spice to methadone, Adderall to bath salts, and everything beyond, below, and in between.

Designer drugs can affect the mind in numerous way, again, depending on the actual substance. Drugs that are derivatives of methamphetamine can cause hallucinations, psychosis, and anxiety. Substances that are derived from LSD can cause permanent psychosis and delusions.

There is a likelihood of overdosing on certain designer drugs, especially opiates and opioids. If overdone, drugs such as OxyContin can cause slow breathing, blue lips, clammy skin, and even death. Drugs of the amphetamine family can cause increased heart rate which can lead to heart failure.

Different designer drugs have different withdrawal symptoms. “Downers” such as opioids can cause sweating, shaking, vomiting, overwhelming pain, and insomnia.

Sign, Symptoms & Common Behaviors of Designer Drug Abuse

Signs and symptoms of designer drug abuse may vary depending upon the type of designer drug that is being used. Bath Salts, for example, can have a stimulating effect on its users and contribute to rapid heart rates, high blood pressure, and dilated pupils.

Many designer drugs also cause users to lose their appetite as well as go into a psychosis, experience dizziness, develop mood disorders, and have contributed to suicidal thoughts and attempts.

Overall, it seems that many designer drugs simply cause an individual to lose touch with reality and greatly affects their own self-control, sometimes it seems under the influence of certain synthetic drugs, the individual loses complete control while something else more sinister takes over.

Individuals who have gone into a psychosis due to designer drugs have often done out of character things and put themselves and others in harm’s way. Resulting death from abuse of these drugs is not uncommon.

Commonly Abused Designer Drugs

Bath Salts

For many years, designer drugs like bath salt went under the legal radar until, in recent years, laws have been enacted to combat the widespread use and abuse of these synthetic drugs.

Bath salts are synthetic stimulant-like chemicals that come in crystal or powder form.

The chemicals are swallowed, inhaled, or injected to achieve the desired stimulant-like effects. It seems that teenagers are more likely to abuse bath salts than any other demographic.


K2/Spice is known as synthetic marijuana. The cannabinoids that occur naturally in marijuana are synthesized and sprayed onto dried plant material and chopped up herbs to be smoked. In recent years, Spice has also been added to vaping liquids.

The synthetic cannabinoids that are sprayed onto the dried plant material or added onto vape juices can be toxic. K2/Spice is completely different than natural marijuana, and the cannabinoids sprayed are not “all natural” ingredients.


3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) is a synthetic drug that can drastically alter the mood and perception of its users.

The synthetic chemicals combine to make the user feel warm, comfortable and experience loving feelings.

MDMA is a drug that is most often abused at raves, which are all-night dance parties.

MDMA comes in capsule or tablet form but can also be crushed and snorted. MDMA affects the dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels of the brain.

Medical Detox

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Reliable Resources Matter to ABTRS Because They Help You Make Educated Decisions

Realizing that you have a substance abuse problem is nerve-racking. Many people do not feel comfortable discussing their designer drug addiction with their doctor in fear of feeling shame or being thrown in jail. Because of that stigma associated with addiction, finding unbiased information that you can trust in is important to ABTRS.

Making that decision to change your life should come from a place of knowledge. When it comes to substance abuse treatment, you need reliable resources that are unbiased and proven or tested to be effective. Check out the list below to learn more about where ABTRS got their information for this webpage.

Weaver, M. F., Hopper, J. A., & Gunderson, E. W. (2015). Designer drugs 2015: assessment and management. Addiction science & clinical practice, 10(1), 8. doi:10.1186/s13722-015-0024-7

Baumann, M. H., Solis, E., Watterson, L. R., Marusich, J. A., Fantegrossi, W. E., & Wiley, J. L. (2014). Baths salts, spice, and related designer drugs: the science behind the headlines. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 34(46), 15150-8.

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