Synthetic drugs, also referred to as designer drugs or club drugs, mimic the effects of illicit drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, LSD, opium, and ecstasy. They are often marketed as “legal highs” and are available over-the-counter at smoke shops and many convenience stores.

The Drug Enforcement Administration has banned certain chemicals used to manufacture these products and many of the chemicals have been added to the list of controlled substances by state and federal legislation. Despite new laws, manufacturers of synthetic drugs stay one step ahead by modifying the chemical structure of the compounds, making them legal again. Model state legislation to deal with synthetic drugs that moves from an analog system where the individual components are identified and scheduled to class based identification and scheduling.

Many parents are not even aware of these products and others mistakenly think because they are legal they are harmless. Easy accessibility of these products and their clear promotion to kids by using cartoon themed packaging makes them even more dangerous.

While the long-term effects of these drugs are relatively unknown, what we do know is frightening. These synthetic drugs can be extremely dangerous and addictive. Health effects from the synthetic drugs can be life-threatening and can include:

  • Severe agitation and anxiety
  • Fast, racing heartbeat and higher blood pressure
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle spasms, seizures, and tremors
  • Intense hallucinations and psychotic episodes
  • Suicidal and other harmful thoughts and/or actions
  • Death