Monday, August 13, 2012

Synthetic Drugs: Collected Posts

Catching up with bath salts and spice.

The Low Down on the New Highs: Not all bath salts are alike.

“You’re 16 hours into your 24-hour shift on the medic unit, and you find yourself responding to an “unknown problem” call.... Walking up to the patient, you note a slender male sitting wide-eyed on the sidewalk. His skin is noticeably flushed and diaphoretic, and he appears extremely tense. You notice slight tremors in his upper body, a clenched jaw and a vacant look in his eyes.... As you begin to apply the blood pressure cuff, the patient begins violently resisting and thrashing about on the sidewalk—still handcuffed. Nothing seems to calm him, and he simultaneously bangs his head on the sidewalk and tries to kick you...” [Go here]

The New Highs: Are Bath Salts Addictive? What we know and don’t know about synthetic speed.

Call bath salts a new trend, if you insist. Do they cause psychosis? Are they “super-LSD?” The truth is, they are a continuation of a 70-year old trend: speed. Lately, we’ve been fretting about the Adderall Generation, but every population cohort has had its own confrontation with the pleasures and perils of speed: Ritalin, ice, Methedrine, crystal meth, IV meth, amphetamine, Dexedrine, Benzedrine… and so it goes. For addicts: Speed kills. Those two words were found all over posters in the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco, a few years too late to do the residents much good…. [Go here]

Bath Salts” and Ecstasy Implicated in Kidney Injuries: “A potentially life-threatening situation.”

Earlier this month, state officials became alarmed by a cluster of puzzling health problems that had suddenly popped up in Casper, Wyoming, population 55,000. Three young people had been hospitalized with kidney injuries, and dozens of others were allegedly suffering from vomiting and back pain after smoking or snorting an herbal product sold as “blueberry spice.” The Poison Review reported that the outbreak was presently under investigation by state medical officials.  “At this point we are viewing use of this drug as a potentially life-threatening situation,” said Tracy Murphy, Wyoming state epidemiologist…. [Go here]

The Triumph of Synthetics: Designer stimulants surpass heroin and cocaine.

A troubling report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) shows that amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) have, for the first time, become more popular around the world than heroin and cocaine. Marijuana remains the most popular illegal drug in the world, and the use of amphetamines has fallen sharply in the U.S., but the world trend represents the worldwide triumph of synthetic drug design over the plant-based “hard drugs” of the past…. [Go here]

Marijuana: The New Generation: What’s in that “Spice” packet?

They first turned up in Europe and the U.K.; those neon-colored foil packets labeled “Spice,” sold in small stores and novelty shops, next to the 2 oz. power drinks and the caffeine pills. Unlike the stimulants known as mephedrone or M-Cat, or the several variations on the formula for MDMA—both of which have also been marketed as Spice and “bath salts”—the bulk of the new products in the Spice line were synthetic versions of cannabis…. [Go here]

An Interview with Pharmacologist David Kroll: On synthetic marijuana, organic medicines, and drugs of the future.

Herewith, a 5-question interview with pharmacologist David Kroll, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of Pharmaceutical Science at North Carolina Central University in Durham, and a well-known blogger in the online science community. A cancer pharmacologist whose field is natural products—he’s currently involved in a project to explore the potential anticancer action of chemicals found in milk thistle and various sorts of fungi—Dr. Kroll received his Ph.D. from the University of Florida, and completed his postdoctoral fellowship in Medical Oncology and Molecular Endocrinology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. He went on to spend the first nine years of his independent research and teaching career at the University of Colorado School of Pharmacy, where he taught all aspects of pharmacology, from central nervous system-active drugs, to anticancer and antiviral medications…. [Go here]

Mephedrone, the New Drug in Town: Bull market for quasi-legal designer highs.

Most people in the United States have never heard of it. Very few have ever tried it. But if Europe is any kind of leading indicator for synthetic drugs (and it is), then America will shortly have a chance to get acquainted with mephedrone, a.k.a. Drone, MCAT, 4-methylmethcathinone (4-MMC), and Meow Meow--the latter nickname presumably in honor of its membership in the cathinone family, making it chemically similar in some ways to amphetamine and ephedrine. But its users often refer to effects more commonly associated with Ecstasy (MDMA), both the good (euphoria, empathy, talkativeness) and the bad (blood pressure spikes, delusions, drastic changes in body temperature)…. [Go here]

Tracking Synthetic Highs: UN office monitors designer drug trade.

Produced by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Global SMART Update  (PDF) for October provides interim reports of emerging trends in synthetic drug use. The report does not concern itself with cocaine, heroin, marijuana, alcohol, or tobacco. “Unlike plant-based drugs,” says the report, “synthetic drugs are quickly evolving with new designer drugs appearing on the market each year.” The update deals primarily with amphetamine-type stimulants, but also includes newer designer drugs such as mephedrone, atypical synthetics like ketamine, synthetic opioids like fentanyl, and old standbys like LSD…. [Go here]

The New Cannabinoids: Army fears influx of synthetic marijuana.

It’s a common rumor: Spice, as the new synthetic cannabis-like products are usually called, will get you high--but will allow you to pass a drug urinalysis. And for this reason, rumor has it, Spice is becoming very popular in exactly the places it might be least welcomed: Police stations, fire departments—and army bases. What the hell is this stuff? [Go here]

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