The effects of synthetic drugs

Synthetic drugs, aka “designer drugs”, have seen a major resurgence in popularity during the past decade. These drugs are tailor designed to have specific effects that make them have a high potential for abuse.

Many of these synthetic drugs are specifically designed to circumvent current drug laws, thus allowing them to be sold legally. Here is a list of some of the currently most popular synthetic drugs.

Synthetic Drugs

Synthetic Cannabinoids (marijuana)

Synthetic marijuana, under brand names such as K2 or Spice, has gained widespread use in A pack of spricemany areas of the country. The chemical compounds of these drugs continue to change. This allows manufacturers to be one step ahead of the law.

These products are manufactured and packaged to look like marijuana. However, they often consist of miscellaneous herbs sprayed with chemicals.

This has the consequence of the user never really knowing what they are using. The contents of  each batch tend to vary.

Synthetic Cathinones, aka “Bath Salts”

Synthetic cathinones gained the nickname “Bath Salts” from how one company chose to market them as such to skirt the laws. These drugs have strong stimulant-like effects, and can lead to paranoia and hallucinations in higher doses.

These synthetic stimulants are chemically similar to cocaine or methamphetamine. When sold in head shops, they are often sold as “herbal incense”. Users typically swallow, snort, or inject bath salts.

Users entering a state of temporary psychosis and committing bizarre crimes on the drug brought it to national attention around 2011. Despite this attention, its popularity persists. (1)

Ecstasy (MDMA)

Ecstasy, also known as MDMA or Molly, is one of the most well-known designer drugs. Ecstasy first gained popularity as a nightclub/dance drug in the 1980s, and continues to be to this day.

This synthetic drug is known to produce intense euphoria, sensitivity to touch, and mild visual hallucinations. Ecstasy has profound negative effects on the brain, and with long-term use can be quite destructive on heavy users lives.

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MDMA is usually consumed as a capsule or tablet. The drug’s nickname Molly is slang for “molecular” and is a reference to the crystalline powder form of MDMA. (2)

Fentanyl-related analogues

The most deadly of the synthetic/designer drugs that are currently popular is without question fentanyl and fentanyl-related analogues. Fentanyl is a strong synthetic opioid compound that can be cheaply produced and is potentially fatal with only microgram dosages.

A recent trend of fentanyl-laced heroin plaguing cities was responsible for over 20,000 overdose deaths in 2016 alone. The National Institute of Health states that fentanyl is nearly 100 times stronger than morphine. (3)

Much of the fentanyl found laced inside heroin and other drugs today is produced overseas. The crude manufacturing processes inside these makeshift labs often leads to dangerous products.


2C-B is a psychedelic drug that was first synthesized in 1974. Its effects, which are similar to LSD and mescaline caused it to surge in popularity until ultimately being outlawed in the 1990’s. Despite this, 2C-B remains popular and is one of the most commonly sold psychedelics on the dark web. (4)


25I-NBOMe, popularly known as N-bombs, was first synthesized in the early 2000’s and subsequently gained popularity as a legal alternative to LSD. After being linked to a number of fatalities, however, 25I-NBOMe was made illegal in most parts of the world.(5)


Krokodil is the street nickname for the designer drug desomorphine that is currently ravaging Eastern European nations. Illicitly produced “krokodil” causes horrendous tissue damage and infections caused by impurities in the drug manufacturing process. (6)


Carfentanil is a fully synthetic opioid that is one of the most potent opioids in existence. It is approximately 100 times more potent than fentanyl, and 10,000 times more potent than morphine. While carfentanil’s only legitimate use is to tranquilize very large animals, it has begun showing up in street drugs such as heroin and gray death. (7)

Treatment for Designer Drug Addiction

Despite their legality, designer drugs are still drugs. And just like more conventional drug use, addiction to them requiring treatment is a growing trend. Treatment provides the greatest advantage to achieving long-term sobriety from these dangerous drugs.

Final Note

This article is intended for those considering a new way of life, free of the pain of drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.