Designer Drugs

Designer Drug Abuse, Addiction, and Treatment in Orange County California

Designer drugs are mood-or-mind-altering substances that are created with the purpose of making someone feel high or mimicking the effects of an already existing drug that is illegal. These substances range from synthetic marijuana to club drugs, stimulants, and hallucinogens. Designer drugs are particularly dangerous because they are often manufactured in clandestine, unregulated labs, so they can contain a number of toxins and dangerous additives. They can also be highly addictive.

If you or a loved one are struggling with designer drug abuse or addiction, our exclusive recovery facility in Orange County California can help. We offer a number of evidence-based drug and alcohol rehab programs that can provide you with the individually-tailored care you need to get sober and healthy.

What are Designer Drugs?

Designer drugs are structural or functional analogs of a controlled substance that have been created to mimic the pharmacological effects of the drug while avoiding classification as illegal and or detection in standard drug tests. This group of drugs also includes drugs that are created with the intention of making someone feel high. Some drugs were originally created for pharmaceutical purposes, but weren’t FDA-approved or were taken off the market. Others are mostly created in illegal labs, causing their makeup to vary substantially.

Some of the most widely abused designer drugs include:

  • MDMA (Ecstasy, Molly)
  • Synthetic marijuana (Spice, K2)
  • LSD (Acid)
  • Ketamine (Special K, K)
  • Rohypnol (Roofies, date rape drugs)
  • GHB (Gamma hydroxybutyrate)
  • Bath salts
  • Alpha-PVP (Flakka)
  • U-4700 (Pink, U4)
  • NBOMe (N-bomb)
  • PCP (Angel dust)
  • 2C drugs (2CI, 2CE, 2CB, etc.)

These drugs are popular at dance clubs, music festivals, and other high-energy events, but they are all extremely dangerous in their own unique ways. Designer drugs can also be addictive.

designer drugs

According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), law enforcement has encountered more than 300 types of designer synthetic drugs on the streets. There are three main categories when it comes to types of designer drugs:

Synthetic Cannabinoids

Synthetic cannabinoids are drugs that are created to mimic the effects of marijuana (cannabis) by interacting with the same receptors in the brain as THC, the primary psychoactive chemical in marijuana.

Side effects include increased relaxation, elevated mood, agitation, anxiety, and intense hallucinations. Synthetic cannabinoids are often considered more dangerous than marijuana because they are more likely to cause confusion, paranoia, psychotic episodes, extreme agitation and anxiety, seizures, and other adverse side effects. They have even been connected to overdose deaths.

These drugs are often labeled “not for human consumption” so they can be legally sold in gas stations, head shops, and convenience stores. Manufacturers usually sell synthetic cannabinoids in colorful, eye-catching packaging that attracts young consumers.

Examples of synthetic cannabinoids include:

  • K2
  • Spice
  • Joker
  • Green Giant
  • Scooby Snax

Synthetic Cathinones

Synthetic cathinones are man-made substances that produce energizing and psychoactive effects. They are stimulant drugs that work by increasing dopamine and/or serotonin levels in the brain which produces feelings of pleasure, happiness, attentiveness, motivation, and talkativeness. These drugs come in the form of crystal-like substances or dried leaves with chemicals sprayed onto them. Cathinones can also be added to other drugs such as powders or counterfeit pills.

Synthetic cathinones are often marketed as “bath salts” or they are sold on the streets as MDMA, methamphetamine, or amphetamines. Another example of a synthetic cathinone is Flakka, an illegal drug that is sold as a gray powder in capsules or small baggies. People typically swallow, snort, smoke, or inject these drugs.

In addition to increasing energy, synthetic cathinones are likely to produce unwanted side effects including:

  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Risky sexual behavior
  • Panic attacks
  • Delirium
  • Agitation
  • Chest pain
  • Dehydration
  • Violent behavior
  • Overdose
  • Death

Synthetic Phenethylamines

Synthetic phenethylamines are designer drugs that produce hallucinogenic effects. They can be found in the form of powders, liquid solutions, soaked onto blotter papers, added to counterfeit pills, or laced into edible items.

Examples of phenethylamines include:

  • LSD (Acid)
  • Ketamine (Special K, K)
  • Rohypnol (Roofies, date rape drugs)
  • GHB (Gamma hydroxybutyrate)
  • NBOMe (N-bomb)
  • PCP (Angel dust)

Synthetic phenethylamines are extremely dangerous because they are highly unregulated and may vary in potency. These drugs are known to cause feelings of dissociation, hallucinations, and detachment. They can also alter one’s sense of sight, taste, smell, sound, and touch.

The Dangers of Designer Drug Abuse

Designer drugs have little to no regulation and are associated with an extensive list of serious health issues including severe side effects, dangerous drug interactions, overdose, and death. Even very small amounts of these drugs can be potentially life-threatening.

Short-term dangers include:

  • Poor decision-making capability
  • Dangerous or risky behaviors
  • Amnesia (memory loss)
  • Paranoia
  • Panic attacks
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Coma

Designer drugs are infamous for landing people in emergency rooms across the country. In 2011 alone, more than 28,500 emergency room visits were linked to synthetic cannabinoid abuse.

Since some designer drugs, particularly synthetic cannabinoids and bath salts, are sometimes found at local shops, people are under the impression that these substances are a safer alternative to illicit drugs. However, this is a harmful misconception.

When creating designer drugs, manufacturers simply tweak the chemical makeup of an illicit substance just enough that it can be considered a new substance and not yet a controlled substance. These small modifications allow manufacturers to slip past legislation. As a result, designer drugs can be just as dangerous–or more dangerous–than illicit drugs. They also have fewer long-term studies done on their effects, so all of the long-term damage of new psychoactive substances is unknown.

Potential long-term risks of designer drug abuse include:

  • Development of a substance use disorder
  • Violent and/or criminal behavior
  • Cognitive problems
  • Heart disease
  • Legal problems
  • Job instability
  • Development of mental health issues

Can You Get Addicted to Designer Drugs?

Any substance that alters your mood or mind can be addictive, including designer drugs like K2, Spice, bath salts, and more. The more frequently a drug is used, the faster an addiction can develop. Addiction develops when the mind and body become hooked on a substance and have difficulty functioning normally without it.

designer drug abuse and addiction

Signs of designer drug addiction are similar to those of addiction to illegal drugs, such as:

  • Experiencing regular drug cravings that don’t subside until the drug is used
  • Spending excess time obtaining drugs, using drugs, and recovering from the effects of drugs
  • Developing a tolerance that requires the person to take higher and higher doses to feel the same effects as before
  • Having symptoms of withdrawal when the drug wears off
  • Making multiple failed attempts to stop getting high
  • Continuing to use designer drugs despite drug use causing negative impacts on daily life or relationships
  • Isolating from loved ones and lying to family and friends

If you or someone you love is addicted to designer drugs, the time to seek help is now. Call Sheer Recovery today to speak with an admissions coordinator about your treatment options.

Designer Drug Addiction Detox and Treatment

A professional detox and treatment program like Sheer Recovery can help individuals stop using designer drugs and embrace a sober, healthy lifestyle. Our team of dedicated medical and psychiatric professionals is committed to offering personalized treatment plans to each and every client.

The first step toward recovery is detoxing. Designer drugs can produce withdrawal symptoms that vary from mild to severe. Symptoms may vary depending on which drug a person is detoxing from, but common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Drug cravings
  • Body aches and muscle pain
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Changes in appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Nausea and/or vomiting

Medical detox centers evaluate clients’ symptoms and needs so they can prescribe the right medications that alleviate symptoms of withdrawal. Nurses and staff also provide 24-hour supervision to ensure client safety.

After detoxing, clients transition to one of our accredited addiction treatment programs where they work closely with expert therapists. Clients will address the root cause of their addiction, participate in a variety of healing therapies, and develop healthy coping skills that support sobriety.

Treatment is offered in a number of different settings, including:

  • Residential inpatient rehab
  • Partial hospitalization program (PHP)
  • Intensive outpatient program (IOP)

Following treatment, we work closely with each person, helping them build an aftercare plan and achieve long-term sobriety.

Find Help for Designer Drug Abuse and Addiction Today

At Sheer Recovery, we guarantee your safety and well-being during your stay by offering a secure, private, and comfortable recovery environment. Our clinical team is composed of licensed mental health professionals and addiction experts who will guide you through each stage of your recovery with compassion and understanding.

Upon treatment completion, you will feel readily equipped with an understanding of your addiction, coping skills that actually work, and a healthy routine that you can apply to your daily life.

Don’t hesitate to consult with a team member about starting treatment. We’re available 24 hours a day to take your call, assess your needs, and help you begin your recovery. Call now to get started.

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