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The Alarming Truth About Synthetic Drugs: Risks and Long-Term Impacts

by | Last updated Oct 2, 2020 at 2:48PM | Published on Feb 12, 2020 | Drug Addiction


Most people are aware of the dangers of drugs like heroin, cocaine, and even alcohol. These substances have caused enormous damage over the years, and most people have been touched in some way by the addiction epidemic in the United States. However, what many may not be aware of is the danger posed by synthetic drugs.

What Are Synthetic Drugs?

Synthetic drugs have become a popular alternative to “traditional” substances. Many are even legal and sold in gas stations and bodegas. But the truth is that these substances, which usually mimic the effects of better-known drugs, can be just as dangerous as heroin and cocaine.

Common Synthetic Drugs

A few years ago, the synthetic drug “flakka” made headlines. The substance is a research chemical that users took to produce effects like increased energy and euphoria. The essence also had some scary effects, like hallucinations, paranoia, and even seizures or kidney failure.

But flakka isn’t the only synthetic drug on the market. Other synthetic drugs include:

  • Bath salts (like mephedrone and methylone)
  • K2 or spice
  • Designer hallucinogens, like 2C-B-FLY and N-Bomb

Most of these substances act similarly to illegal drugs, like methamphetamine, marijuana, and LSD. Typically, made in illicit labs. Drug compounds are created by removing or replacing specific molecules. As a result, this technically makes them “legal” because they don’t have the same chemical make-up as drugs like heroin or cocaine. But the impacts of these substances are severe and sometimes tragic.

The Impacts of Synthetic Drugs

Synthetic drugs include not just bath salts, but also fentanyl and synthetic PCP. The classification consists of a range of substances. They may seem safe because many of them are still legal- the law hasn’t caught up with every new chemical compound created in a lab. However, this makes them even more dangerous. There isn’t enough research to know all of the long-term impacts. What we do know is that synthetic drugs can cause the following:

  • Overdose
  • Hallucinations, delirium, and paranoia
  • Hyperthermia and dehydration
  • Anxiety
  • Seizures
  • Aggressive behaviors
  • Dependence and addiction
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness and coma

Unfortunately, the truth is that many of these drugs can be addictive and even fatal. While they may seem “safe” because they are easily purchased, they can harm users just as many illegal narcotics.

Getting Help for Drug Abuse and Addiction

Drug addiction is dangerous, no matter the substance. Because synthetic drugs are so easily purchased, many people become dependent on them without realizing the risk. Fortunately, treatment is available for addicts regardless of the substance they are using.

At Lighthouse, we offer comprehensive, quality care for individuals struggling with addiction. Because many substances can also cause mental health issues, we focus on dual diagnosis care. We strive to not only treat the addiction, but also offer help for conditions that come with addiction, like depression, anxiety, and even drug-induced psychotic symptoms. If you are ready to take the next step and get help for synthetic substance use, don’t hesitate to call us today.

Learn more about the dangers of these drugs with our synthetic drugs learning guide.



Molly is Lighthouse Recovery Institute’s Case Manager and Vocational Services. She has a Bachelor’s in International Relations, is a Certified Addiction Counselor, and it’s currently working towards her Master’s in Social Work. Molly’s experience allows her to provide expert knowledge about solution-based methods to help people in recovery maintain long-term sobriety.
Medical Disclaimer:

Lighthouse Recovery Institute aims to improve the quality of life for anyone struggling with substance use or mental health disorder. We provide fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options, and their outcomes. The material we publish is researched, cited, edited, and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide in our posts is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be used in place of the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider.

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