MAR 31, 2016 12:31 PM PDT

What Makes Synthetic Drugs So Dangerous?

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Synthetic drugs are those created with man-made chemicals that mimic responses from natural compounds. On the market, these drugs are known with their street names, such as "K2," "spice," "bath salts," and "N-bomb." These drugs generally fall into two categories: synthetic cannabinoids, also known as "synthetic pot," and synthetic cathinones, also known as "synthetic stimulants."

Synthetic cannabinoids aim to replicate the "high" from marijuana, using the chemical JWH-018 to replace the THC naturally found in the plant. Similarly, synthetic cathinones replicate effects of amphetamines or cocaine, and often contain methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), mephedrone, and methylone. In both types, the synthetic version is exponentially more potent than the natural version, and can amplify symptoms of anxiety and panic to dangerous levels. The synthetic mimics also cause a plethora of neurological conditions, including seizures and heart palpitations.

Moreover, to avoid the illegal label, the ingredients in these synthetic drugs are constantly changing. And without any quality control, users can never be quite sure what actually ended up in their drugs. Thus, reactions and sensitivity are never the same from one instance to the other, making the synthetic drugs even more unpredictable.

With use of these drugs on the rise, we have also seen an increase in violence, erratic behavior, and even death that are associated with these substances. Watch the video to learn the chemistry behind why we should leave these drugs alone.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
SEP 22, 2018
Videos
SEP 22, 2018
How Much of the Human Genome is Just Junk DNA?
Once written off as junk, it was suggested that some regions of the genome that don't code for protein act as regulators. But how much?...
SEP 25, 2018
Space & Astronomy
SEP 25, 2018
Japan Put Two Landers On An Asteroid for Science
Japanese space agency JAXA recently made history after its Hayabusa 2 mission approached the asteroid 162173 Ryugu and dumped off two landers to study the ...
SEP 27, 2018
Videos
SEP 27, 2018
Should Governments Get Involved in Obesity?
Obesity is a growing problem, for children as well as for adults. In the UK, there is a concern about the rates of childhood obesity. Public health officia...
SEP 27, 2018
Videos
SEP 27, 2018
What's at The Bottom of The Worlds Deepest Lake?
Have you ever wondered what’s at the bottom of the world’s deepest lake? The deepest lake is the ancient Lake Baikal located in southern Russia...
OCT 10, 2018
Videos
OCT 10, 2018
Are Personality Tests Scientifically Accurate?
Personality tests like the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory and others are used to find out what a person is like, internally. They measure reac...
OCT 14, 2018
Videos
OCT 14, 2018
Why Don't Salt Substitutes Exist?
The basic table salt is composed of sodium chloride which dissociate into two separate ions: sodium serving as the cation (a positively charged ion) and ch...
Loading Comments...