Synthetic cannabis is a psychoactive herbal and chemical product which, when consumed mimics the effects of cannabis. It is best known by the brand names K2 and Spice, both of which have largely become genericized trademarks used to refer to any synthetic cannabis product. (It is also for this reason that synthetic cannabis is often referred to as spice product, due to the latter.)
When synthetic cannabis blends first went on sale in the early 2000s it was thought that they achieved an effect through a mixture of legal herbs. Laboratory analysis in 2008 showed this was not the case and that they in fact contained synthetic cannabinoids which act on the body in a similar way to cannabinoids naturally found in cannabis, such as THC. A large and complex variety of synthetic cannabinoids, most often cannabicyclohexanol, JWH-018, JWH-073, or HU-210, are used in an attempt to avoid the laws which make cannabis illegal, making synthetic cannabis a designer drug. It has been sold under various brand names, online, in head shops and at some gas stations.
It is often marketed as "herbal incense", however some brands market their products as "herbal smoking blends". In either case the products are usually smoked by users. Although synthetic cannabis does not produce positive results in drug tests for cannabis, it is possible to detect its metabolites in human urine. The synthetic cannabinoids contained in synthetic cannabis products have been made illegal in many European countries. On 24 November 2010, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency announced it would make five synthetic cannabinoids Schedule I drugs within a month using emergency powers. Prior to the announcement, several US states had already made them illegal under state law. As of March 1, 2011, five cannabinoids, JWH-018, JWH-073, CP-47,497, JWH-200, and cannabicyclohexanol are now illegal in the US.
According to the Psychonaut Web Mapping Research Project, synthetic cannabis products, sold under the brand name Spice first appeared in Europe in 2004. The brand "Spice" was released in 2004 by the now dormant company The Psyche Deli in London, UK. In 2006 the brand gained popularity. According to the Financial Times the assets of The Psyche Deli rose from £65,000 in 2006 to £899,000 in 2007. The EMCDDA reported in 2009 that ‘Spice’ products were identified in 21 of the 30 participating countries. Because 'Spice' was the dominant brand until 2009, the competing brands that started to appear from 2008 on, were also dubbed 'Spice'. Spice can therefore relate to both the brand 'Spice', as to all herbal blends with synthetic cannabinoids added. A survey of readers of Mixmag in the UK in 2009, found that one in eight respondents had used synthetic cannabis, compared to 85% who had used cannabis.
Synthetic cannabis is claimed by the manufacturers to contain a mixture of traditionally used medicinal herbs, each of which supposedly produces mild effects with the overall blend resulting in the cannabis-like intoxication produced by the product. Herbs listed on the packaging of Spice include Canavalia maritima, Nymphaea caerulea, Scutellaria nana, Pedicularis densiflora, Leonotis leonurus, Zornia latifolia, Nelumbo nucifera and Leonurus sibiricus. However, when the product was analyzed by laboratories in Germany and elsewhere, it was found that many of the characteristic "fingerprint" molecules expected to be present from the claimed plant ingredients were not present. There were also large amounts of synthetic tocopherol present. This suggested that the actual ingredients might not be the same as what was listed on the packet, and a German government risk assessment of the product conducted in November 2008 concluded that it was unclear what the actual plant ingredients were, where the synthetic tocopherol had come from, and whether the subjective cannabis-like effects were actually produced by any of the claimed plant ingredients or instead might possibly be caused by a synthetic cannabinoid drug.
Safety and Side Effects
No official studies have been conducted on its effects on humans. Though its effects are not well documented, extremely large doses may cause negative effects that are generally not noted in marijuana users, such as increased agitation and vomiting. Professor John W. Huffman who first synthesised many of the cannabinoids used in synthetic cannabis is quoted as saying, "People who use it are idiots." "You don't know what it's going to do to you." A user who consumed 3 g of Spice Gold every day for several months showed withdrawal symptoms, similar to those associated with withdrawing from the use of narcotics. Doctors treating the user also noted that his use of the product showed signs associated with addiction. One case has been reported where a user, who had previously suffered from cannabis induced recurrent psychotic episodes, suffered reactivation of their symptoms after using Spice. Psychiatrists treating him have suggested that the lack of an antipsychotic chemical, similar to cannabidiol found in natural cannabis, may make synthetic cannabis more likely to induce psychosis than natural cannabis.
Since JWH-018 or K2 acts like marijuana, you'd expect to see the same effects, including sleepiness, relaxation, reduced blood pressure, and at high doses, hallucinations and delusions.
While some patients between the ages of 14 and 21 were showing up with hallucinations, other symptoms, such as increased agitation and elevated blood pressure and heart rates, didn't match up with marijuana.
Scalza speculates either another compound is responsible for the nasty side effects, or the concentration of JWH-018 is too high.
To answer this question, Scalzo is having doctors test patients' urine for JWH-018 and other compounds, but he is having trouble getting patients to agree to the test.
"This is not something that people are agreeing to," Scalzo said during a telephone interview. "Here's a legal substance that we don't know really that much about that people are putting into their bodies without quality control."
And even though doctors like Scalzo say they'd like to help the teens, that's not enough. "Phenomenally, people are saying no. They're afraid someone is going to find something," though Scalzo has no idea why they'd be afraid.
Bath Salts/Vanilla Sky/Ivory Wave
'Bath Salts' Drug Trend: Expert Q&A
Why 'bath salts' are dangerous, though not illegal in all states.
By Matt McMillen
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD
A new designer drug known as “bath salts” has become increasingly popular and increasingly scary. Poison centers across the U.S. have reported growing numbers of calls about the synthetic stimulant, and more and more states are banning the drug. But as of now, there is no federal law prohibiting their sale.
Make no mistake: These are not bath salts like those you would use in your bath.
WebMD talked to Zane Horowitz, MD, an emergency room physician and medical director of the Oregon Poison Center, about what they are and why you should avoid them.
First of all, what are bath salts?
"The presumption is that most bath salts are MDPV, or methylenedioxypyrovalerone, although newer pyrovalerone derivatives are being made by illegal street chemists. Nobody really knows, because there is no way to test for these substances," Horowitz says.
Why are they called bath salts?
"It’s confusing. Is this what we put in our bathtubs, like Epsom salts? No. But by marketing them as bath salts and labeling them 'not for human consumption,' they have been able to avoid them being specifically enumerated as illegal," Horowitz says.
Are bath salts illegal?
"You can find them in mini-marts and smoke shops sold as Ivory Wave, Bolivian Bath, and other names," Horowitz says. "The people who make these things have skirted the laws that make these types of things illegal. While several states have banned the sale of bath salts, ultimately it will have to be a federal law that labels these as a schedule 1 drug, which means it has no medicinal value but a high potential for abuse, and declare them illegal."
What do you experience when you take bath salts?
"Agitation, paranoia, hallucinations, chest pain, suicidality. It’s a very scary stimulant that is out there. We get high blood pressure and increased pulse, but there’s something more, something different that’s causing these other extreme effects. But right now, there’s no test to pick up this drug. The only way we know if someone has taken them is if they tell you they have.
The clinical presentation is similar to mephedrone [a chemical found in other designer drugs], with agitation, psychosis, and stimulatory effects. Both of these agents should be of concern, as severe agitated behavior, like an amphetamine overdose, has occurred.
A second concern is the ongoing suicidality in these patients, even after the stimulatory effects of the drugs have worn off. At least for MDPV, there have been a few highly publicized suicides a few days after their use," Horowitz says.
Are bath salts addictive? How are they taken?
"We don’t know if they are addictive. We have not had enough long-term experience with it. Acute toxicity is the main problem. But many stimulants do cause a craving. The people who take them are very creative. They snort it, shoot it, mix it with food and drink," Horowitz says.
Bath salts are the latest example of designer drugs. Where do you see this trend going?
"That’s right. They are part of a long line of other pills and substances that we call designer drugs. And drug makers will keep creating new combinations at home and in illicit labs," Horowitz says. "It’s almost impossible to keep up. And the motivation for buying them is always the same: Drugs like these are new and below the radar, unlike named illegal drugs."
Salvia divinorum (also known as Diviner's Sage, Ska María Pastora, Seer's Sage, and by its genus name Salvia) is a psychoactive plant which can induce dissociative effects and is a potent producer of "visions" and other hallucinatory experiences. Its native habitat is within cloud forest in the isolated Sierra Mazateca of Oaxaca, Mexico, growing in shady and moist locations. The plant grows to over a meter high, has hollow square stems, large leaves, and occasional white flowers with violet calyx. Botanists have not determined whether Salvia divinorum is a cultigen or a hybrid; native plants reproduce vegetatively, rarely producing viable seed.
Salvia divinorum has a long and continuous tradition of religious use by Mazatec shamans, who use it to facilitate visionary states of consciousness during spiritual healing sessions. Most of the plant's local common names allude to the Mazatec belief that the plant is an incarnation of the Virgin Mary, with its ritual use also invoking that relationship. Its active psychoactive constituent is a structurally unique diterpenoid called salvinorin A, a potent κ-opioid and D2 receptor agonist. Salvia divinorum is generally understood to be of low toxicity (high LD50) and low addictive potential; as a κ-opioid agonist.
Salvia divinorum remains legal in most countries and, within the United States, is legal in the majority of states. However, some have called for its prohibition. While not currently regulated by US federal drug laws, several states have passed laws criminalizing the substance. Some proposed state bills have failed to progress and have not been made into law (with motions having been voted down or otherwise dying in committee stages). There have not been many publicized prosecutions of individuals violating anti-salvia laws in the few countries and states in which it has been made illegal
Salvia divinorum is native to the Sierra Mazateca in Oaxaca, Mexico, where it is still used by the Mazatec, primarily to facilitate shamanic visions in the context of curing or divination. S. divinorum is one of several species with hallucinogenic properties that are ritually used by Mazatec shamans. Others include certain morning glory seeds (Turbina corymbosa), psilocybin mushrooms, and various coleus species. In their rituals, the shamans use only fresh S. divinorum leaves. They see the plant as an incarnation of the Virgin Mary, and begin the ritual with an invocation to Mary, Saint Peter, the Holy Trinity, and other saints. Ritual use traditionally involves being in a quiet place after ingestion of the leaf—the Maztec shamans say that "La Maria (S. divinorum) speaks with a quiet voice."
It is also used remedially at lower dosages as a diuretic, and to treat ailments including diarrhea, anemia, headaches, rheumatism, and a semi-magical disease known as panzón de borrego, or a swollen belly (literally, "lamb belly").
Mazatec shamans crush the leaves to extract leaf juices from about 20 to 80 (about 50g/2 oz to 200g/7 oz.) or more fresh leaves. They usually mix these juices with water to create an infusion or 'tea' which they drink to induce visions in ritual healing ceremonies.
Chewing and swallowing a large number of fresh leaves is the other Mazatec method. Oral consumption of the leaf makes the effects come on more slowly, over a period of 10 to 20 minutes. The experience, from the onset of effects, lasts from about 30 minutes up to one and a half hours.
Doses for chewing vastly exceed doses used for smoking. By calculating the concentrations per leaf ("an average concentration of 2.45 mg per gram" of leaf), the average weight per leaf ("about 50 g" per 20 leaves, or 2.5g/leaf), and the standard dose for chewing (about 8-28 leaves), the doses can range from about 50 mg to 172 mg (a few to many times more salvinorin A than consumed when smoking).
Salvia divinorum is becoming more widely known and used in modern culture. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an annual US based survey sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), for 2006 estimated that about 1.8 million persons aged 12 or older had used Salvia divinorum in their lifetime, of which approximately 750,000 had done so in that year. The following year, 2007, saw the annual figure rise from 750,000 to 1 million US users.
Modern methods of ingestion include smoking or chewing the leaf, or using a tincture, as described in the following sections.
Heat gun vaporizing
Main article: Vaporizer (cannabis)
The Ultimate Vaporizer Combo 9mm is a heatgun vaporizer that produces between 104-593°C (220-1100°F) which makes it unique for use with Salvia divinorum since Salvinorin A has very high melting point (240°C) and flash point (294.8°C). The Universal vaporizer bowl comes with a 9mm down stem. At 9mm, this vaporizer bowl will fit into the largest array of water and or tobacco receptacles including the one in this combo; Daniel Siebert cautions that inhaling hot air can be irritating and potentially damaging to the lungs. Vapor produced by a heat gun needs to be cooled by running it through a water pipe or cooling chamber before inhalation.
Dry leaves can be smoked in a pipe, but most users prefer the use of a water pipe to cool the smoke. The temperature required to release salvinorin from the plant material is quite high (about 240°C). A cooler flame will work, but the direct application of a more intense flame, such as that of a torch lighter, is often preferred.
Some find that untreated dry leaf produces unnoticeable or only light effects. Concentrated preparations or extracts which may be smoked in place of untreated leaves, have become widely available. This enhanced (or "fortified") leaf is described by a number followed by an x (e.g. 5x, 10x), the multiplicative factors being generally indicative of the relative amounts of leaf concentrate, though there is no accepted standard for these claims. Other sources may use a system of color codes to form their own standards of potency; for example, "green", "yellow", and "red."
These grades of potency may be roughly indicative of the relative concentration of the active principle, (salvinorin A), but the measure should not be taken as absolute. Overall extract potency will depend on the (naturally varying) strength of the untreated leaf used in preparing the extract, as well as the efficiency of the extraction process itself. Extracts reduce the overall amount of inhalations needed to ingest a given amount of active principle, thus facilitating more powerful experiences.
If salvia is smoked, then the main effects are experienced quickly. The most intense 'peak' is reached within a minute or so and lasts for 1–5 minutes, followed by a gradual tapering off. At 5–10 minutes, less intense yet still noticeable effects typically persist, giving way to a returning sense of the everyday and familiar until back to baseline after about 15 to 20 minutes.
The traditional method of chewing the leaves has continued in modern use. However, salvinorin A is generally considered to be inactive when orally ingested, as salvinorin A is effectively deactivated by the gastrointestinal system. Therefore, in what's understood to be a modern innovation, the 'quid' of leaves is held in the mouth as long as possible in order to facilitate absorption of the active constituents through the oral mucosa. 'Quid' refers to the fact that at the end of this method the user spits out the leaves rather than swallowing them because ingesting the leaves has no known effect. Chewing consumes more of the plant than smoking, and produces a longer-lasting experience.
Using a tincture
Less commonly, some may ingest salvia in the form of a tincture. This is administered sublingually, usually with the aid of a glass dropper. It may be taken diluted with water just before use, which may slightly reduce the intensity of its effects, but can also serve to lessen or avoid a stinging sensation in the mouth caused by the presence of alcohol. Tinctures vary in potency, and the effects can range from inducing a mild meditative state to bringing about a more intense visionary one.
When taken as a tincture the effects and duration are similar to other methods of oral ingestion, though they may be significantly more intense, depending on extract potency.
Psychedelic experiences are necessarily somewhat subjective and variations in reported effects are to be expected. Aside from individual reported experiences there has been a limited amount of published work summarising the effects. D.M. Turner's book
After the peak effects, normal awareness-of-self and the immediate surroundings return but lingering effects may be felt. These short-term lingering effects have a completely different character than the peak experience. About half of users report a pleasing 'afterglow', or pleasant state of mind following the main effects. Researchers from the University of California and California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute conducted a survey of 500 salvia users which identified that they 'sometimes or often' experience certain effects, including:
Increased insight: 47%
Decreased insight: 1.8%
Improved mood: 44.8%
Worsened mood: 4.0%
Increased connection with Universe or Nature: 39.8%
Decreased connection with Universe or Nature: 5.4%
Increased sweating: 28.2%
Decreased sweating: 1.6%
Body felt warm or hot: 25.2%
Body felt cold: 6.4%
Increased self-confidence: 21.6%
Decreased self-confidence: 2.4%
Improved concentration: 19.4%
Difficulty concentrating: 12.0%
Other commonly reported effects include:
Feelings of calmness: 42.2%
Weird thoughts: 36.4%
Things seeming unreal: 32.4%
Floating feelings: 32%
Mind racing: 23.2%
Feeling lightheaded: 22.2%
Differing studies suggest no overall consensus so far with regard to the long-term effects of Salvia divinorum on mood. It is well-established that some k-opioid agonists can cause dysphoria in humans, and research using rats in forced-swim tests has been used to suggest that Salvia divinorum may have "depressive-like" effects. However, a report has been published detailing an individual case of Salvia divinorum use as self-medicated treatment for depression, and Baggott's survey of 500 people with firsthand experience of salvia found that 25.8% of respondents reported improved mood and "antidepressant-like effects" lasting 24 hours or longer. Only 4.4% reported persisting (24 hours or more) negative effects (most often anxiety) on at least one occasion.
There has been one report of salvia precipitating psychosis. However, the authors suspected that their patient was already genetically predisposed to schizophrenia.
It has been suggested that the long-term effects of salvia use may include feelings of déjà vu.
The Baggott survey found little evidence of addictive potential (chemical dependence) in its survey population. 0.6% percent of respondents reported feeling addicted to or dependent on salvia at some point, and 1.2% reported strong cravings. About this the researchers said "there were too few of these individuals to interpret their reports with any confidence".
Club Drugs (GHB, Ketamine, and Rohypnol)
Club drugs are a pharmacologically heterogeneous group of psychoactive drugs that tend to be abused by teens and young adults at bars, nightclubs, concerts, and parties. Gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB), Rohypnol, ketamine, as well as MDMA (ecstasy) and methamphetamine (which are featured in separate InfoFacts) are some of the drugs included in this group.
GHB (Xyrem) is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2002 for use in the treatment of narcolepsy (a sleep disorder). This approval came with severe restrictions, including its use only for the treatment of narcolepsy, and the requirement for a patient registry monitored by the FDA. GHB is also a metabolite of the inhibitory neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). It exists naturally in the brain, but at much lower concentrations than those found when GHB is abused.
Rohypnol (flunitrazepam) use began gaining popularity in the United States in the early 1990s. It is a benzodiazepine (chemically similar to sedative-hypnotic drugs such as Valium or Xanax), but it is not approved for medical use in this country, and its importation is banned.
Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic, mostly used in veterinary practice.
How Are Club Drugs Abused?
GHB and Rohypnol are available in odorless, colorless, and tasteless forms that are frequently combined with alcohol and other beverages. Both drugs have been used to commit sexual assaults (also known as “date rape,” “drug rape,” “acquaintance rape,” or “drug-assisted” assault) due to their ability to sedate and incapacitate unsuspecting victims, preventing them from resisting sexual assault.
GHB is usually ingested orally, either in liquid or powder form, while Rohypnol is typically taken orally in pill form. Recent reports, however, have shown that Rohypnol is being ground up and snorted.
Both GHB and Rohypnol are also abused for their intoxicating effects, similar to other CNS depressants.
GHB also has anabolic effects (it stimulates protein synthesis) and has been used by bodybuilders to aid in fat reduction and muscle building.
Ketamine is usually snorted or injected intramuscularly.
How Do Club Drugs Affect the Brain?
GHB acts on at least two sites in the brain: the GABAB receptor and a specific GHB binding site. At high doses, GHB’s sedative effects may result in sleep, coma, or death.
Rohypnol, like other benzodiazepines, acts at the GABAA receptor. It can produce anterograde amnesia, in which individuals may not remember events they experienced while under the influence of the drug.
Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic, so called because it distorts perceptions of sight and sound and produces feelings of detachment from the environment and self. Ketamine acts on a type of glutamate receptor (NMDA receptor) to produce its effects, which are similar to those of the drug PCP., Low-dose intoxication results in impaired attention, learning ability, and memory. At higher doses, ketamine can cause dreamlike states and hallucinations; and at higher doses still, ketamine can cause delirium and amnesia.
Repeated use of GHB may lead to withdrawal effects, including insomnia, anxiety, tremors, and sweating. Severe withdrawal reactions have been reported among patients presenting from an overdose of GHB or related compounds, especially if other drugs or alcohol are involved.
Like other benzodiazepines, chronic use of Rohypnol can produce tolerance, physical dependence, and addiction.
There have been reports of people binging on ketamine, a behavior that is similar to that seen in some cocaine- or amphetamine-dependent individuals. Ketamine users can develop signs of tolerance and cravings for the drug.
What Other Adverse Effects Do Club Drugs Have on Health?
Uncertainties about the sources, chemicals, and possible contaminants used to manufacture many club drugs make it extremely difficult to determine toxicity and associated medical consequences. Nonetheless, we do know that:
Coma and seizures can occur following use of GHB. Combined use with other drugs such as alcohol can result in nausea and breathing difficulties. GHB and two of its precursors, gamma butyrolactone (GBL) and 1,4 butanediol (BD), have been involved in poisonings, overdoses, date rapes, and deaths.
Rohypnol may be lethal when mixed with alcohol and/or other CNS depressants.
Ketamine, in high doses, can cause impaired motor function, high blood pressure, and potentially fatal respiratory problems.
How Widespread Is Club Drug Abuse?
Monitoring the Future (MTF) Survey*
MTF has reported consistently low levels of abuse of these club drugs since they were added to the survey. For GHB and ketamine, this occurred in 2000; for Rohypnol, 1996. According to results of the 2009 MTF survey, 0.7 percent of 8th-grade and 1.1 percent of 12th-grade students reported past-year** use of GHB, a statistically significant decrease from peak-year use of 1.2 percent in 2000 for 8th-graders and 2.0 percent for 12th-graders in 2004. GHB use among 10th-grade students was reported at 1.0 percent, an increase from 2008 (0.5 percent), and statistically unchanged from peak use of 1.4 percent in 2002 and 2003.
Past-year use of ketamine was reported by 1.0 percent of 8th-graders, 1.3 percent of 10th-graders, and 1.7 percent of 12th-graders in 2009. These percentages also represent significant decreases from peak years: 2000 for 8th-graders (at 1.6 percent) and 2002 for 10th- and 12th-graders (at 2.2 and 2.6 percent, respectively).
For Rohypnol, 0.4 percent of 8th- and 10th-graders, and 1.0 percent of 12th-graders reported past-year use, also down from peak use in 1996 for 8th-graders (1.0 percent), 1997 for 10th-graders (1.3 percent), and 2002 and 2004 for 12th-graders (1.6 percent).
What are Rave Clubs?
“Raves” are large all-night dance parties, held in unusual settings like warehouses or railroad yards that feature computer generated high volume pulsating music, known as “techno” or “house” music. Rave clubs got their start in England in the late 1980’s and are known for the music and use of drugs like Ecstasy.
Rave club goers are known as “Ravers”. All “Ravers” do not consume drugs. The club scene seems to be attracting adolescents from age 13 to young adults in their mid-to-late 20’s. Party announcements can be found posted on colorful fliers, through word of mouth, even on the Internet. The phenomenon known as the “Rave Movement” has been compared to the “Peace & Love Movement” of the 1960 and 1970’s. Partygoers often can be found with surgical facemasks (used to inhale various substances), baby pacifiers (used to control the teeth grinding that goes along with Ecstasy use), glow sticks (used to heighten the “high” from hallucinogenic substances). and wild or elaborate costumes.
What substances are being used on the Rave dance scene?
There are a variety of substances that have been connected with Rave Clubs. This is a brief list of some of the drugs by slang names and some of their effects:
Ecstasy – Hallucinogen/Stimulant Ecstasy is a synthetic drug that is similar to methamphetamine and the hallucinogen mescaline. Ecstasy can produce a significant increase in heart rate and blood pressure and a sense of alertness. The stimulant effects, which enable users to dance for extended periods, may also lead to dehydration, hypertension, and heart or kidney failure. Ecstasy can cause brain damage. It is one of the most widely used of the club drugs.
Ephedrine – Stimulant This substance is sold over-the-counter at convenience stores, some food stores, and mail order. It is sold often as ‘Herbal Ecstasy’ and is touted as a ‘safe’ and ‘legal’ form of Ecstasy. Ephedrine is in the Amphetamine family and can cause heart attacks, seizures, agitation, palpitations, and other health problems. Ephedrine is a common weight-loss substance. The FDA has proposed restrictions on ephedrine after it received more than 800 reports of harmful effects to people, among them coronary problems that could put patients at risk for heart attacks, strokes and death.
Ketamine – Hallucinogen Ketamine is an animal tranquilizer used by vets in pet surgery. Users say the effects of Ketamine are similar to PCP. Ketamine is usually snorted and is frequently used in combination with other drugs like ecstasy, heroin and cocaine. The high lasts anywhere from 30-minutes to about 2-hours. Special K or powdered Ketamine, emerged as a recreational drug in the 1970s and was known as “Vitamin K’ in the underground club scene in the 1980s. It has since resurfaced as “Special K” in the 1990s rave scene.
GHB – Depressant This substance comes in a liquid form and looks like water and has a salty taste. GHB is used as a “club drug” for effects similar to those of Rohypnol, also known as “date rape drugs.” Coma and seizures can occur following of GHB and when combined with methamphetamine. Mixing GHB with alcohol could be a deadly combination. Excessive use of GHB can result in loss of consciousness (G-hole), tremors, irregular and depressed respiration and coma.
Methcathinone – Stimulant Known on the street as Khat or cat it produces an amphetamine like effect. The drug produces a burst of energy and feeling of invincibility, accompanied by a state of well being and euphoria. Effects include paranoia, hallucinations, nervousness and anxiety. Physical effects can be pounding heart, headaches stomachaches, and shakes. Khat is most often snorted, but may also be injected with a needle or taken orally by mixing with a beverage such as a soft drink.
LSD – Hallucinogen LSD induces abnormalities in sensory perceptions. Effects are unpredictable depending on the amount taken, on the surroundings in which the drug is used, and on the user’s personality, mood, and expectations. It can be in the form of a tablet, capsule, liquid, or on pieces of blotter paper that have absorbed the drug and is typically taken by mouth. Effects come on within 30 to 90 minutes after taking and can include physical effects of dilated pupils, higher body temperature, increased heart rate and blood pressure, sweating, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, dry mouth, and tremors.
Magic Mushrooms – Hallucinogen The effects of Mushrooms or “Shrooms” are similar to LSD. They include illusions and hallucinations, distorted perception of time and distance. It is ingested orally in the form of tablets or powder. Trips or episodes can consist of psychosis, convulsions, flashbacks, and possible death.
Methamphetamine – Stimulant Methamphetamine affects many areas of the central nervous system. The drug is often made in clandestine laboratories from relatively inexpensive over-the-counter ingredients. Diverse groups, including young adults who attend raves, in many regions of the country, are using it. It is available in many forms, and can be smoked, snorted, injected, or orally ingested. Methamphetamine use is associated with serious health consequences, including memory loss, aggression, violence, psychotic behavior, and potential cardiac and neurological damage. Abusers typically are agitated, have excited speech, decreased appetite, and increased physical activity levels.
Some of the substances on the list are not new to the drug scene. At least half of them were being abused in the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s. During the 90’s emergency room admissions increased due to club drug usage. It can be very dangerous to mix some of these substances together and/or to take with alcohol.