A Lesser-Discussed Threat: Synthetic Drugs and Their Impact
By now we’re all aware of the widespread devastation caused by heroin and prescription opioids. If we haven’t experienced it in our own personal lives, we’ve heard second-hand accounts of people whose lives were destroyed by these two addiction threats. As heroin and painkillers continues to dominate whatever infrequent national conversation exists regarding addiction and substance abuse treatment, other significant substance abuse issues are getting a dangerously little amount of attention. One example of this is synthetic drug abuse. As more and more Texans, and Americans in general, fall victim to these dangerous drugs, solutions continue to emerge at a snail’s pace, if at all.
Synthetic drugs are substances that are meant to mirror the effects of recognized illicit or controlled substances. One of the main problems associated with these substances is that the law has not yet caught up to their regulation and, thus, many remain legal. Every time a harmful synthetic substance emerges and begins to pose a significant public health threat, only then are the specific substances made illegal. in the mean time, many fall victim to overdose. A few months later, overseas manufacturers traffic in a different version of the drug, after changing one small, inconsequential compound, making them legal again. Some of the more popular examples of this include K2, Spice and Bath Salts.
Although this is a problem with which many areas of the United States are painfully familiar, Texas is just starting to feel the impact of widespread synthetic drug abuse. In a recent interview with an NBC affiliate in San Antonio, one synthetic drug user recounts his story of addiction and how it has crippled his life. Sherman resident Ryan McBride discusses how he found comfort and accessibility in legal synthetic drugs after starting out using marijuana, cocaine and Xanax. He settled into a routine using drugs legal synthetic drugs like “Diablo” to escape arrest and identification on legally mandated drug screenings (many of these drugs simply don’t show up).
McBride describes the dangerous and bizarre behavior to which these drugs led him and his subsequent journey to recovery. His story also highlights the dangerous lack of predictability of these drugs from batch to batch. One of the most dangerous elements of these new drugs is that users don’t know what they’re taking, nor do they know what will trigger a particularly adverse reaction. As the United States endeavors to get its arms around heroin and prescription painkiller abuse, it should be noted that other dangerous substance abuse threats are waiting just around the corner, and some of them aren’t even illegal yet.