It’s no secret that pharmaceutical manufacturers have one intention in business — to make money.
The pharmaceutical industry rakes in around $300 billion annually, a price tag that is expected to increase by another billion within only three years’ time, according to the World Health Organization. Additionally, six of the 10 largest drug-making companies in the world are right here in America.
While it is certainly possible to profit a great deal from the rampant illnesses of undeveloped nations combined with the high rate of diagnoses like cancer in Western civilization, that isn’t how big pharma companies are making their billions. Drugs are costly, and for many, impossible to obtain because of the heavy price tag. In 2012, 12 new drugs were approved by the Food and Drug Administration and of them, 11 would cost more than $100,000 to treat one person for one year, per AlterNet.
Pharmaceutical companies are wasting no time in getting their message out to consumers either. If you read, watch television, or ever pass a billboard, it’s likely you’re being marketed to for a condition you have, one you might be diagnosed with someday or even one you know someone else has. The regular barrage of drug advertisements has dramatically increased in the past decade, and some believe media exposure to these drugs could be partly to blame for increased abuse. In 1996, pharmaceutical promotion came at the cost of $11.4 billion; in 2005, the price jumped to $29.9 billion, per one New England Journal of Medicine review.
What Are Research Chemicals?
Research chemicals, sometimes referred to as designer drugs, represent a class of drugs that are legally manufactured by drug makers, but their makeup is innately similar to other classes of drugs that are highly illegally and likewise, dangerous. Unscrupulous drug makers have learned they can easily bypass legal issues by making these nearly copycat substances knowing ahead of time that people will get hooked on them like wildfire. It clearly isn’t a concern to drug maker whether or not you become addicted to the research chemicals you’re abusing as long as your habit is lining their pocket.
Generally speaking, research chemicals are used for research purposes by trained medical professionals and scientists. However, because they are distinctly labeled as being not safe for human consumption, these drugs can be sold legally. Furthermore, drug makers are somewhat exempt from liability of any harm caused by ingesting them since the label warns against it.
The chemical makeup of research chemicals varies from one drug to the next. Research chemicals broadly define a group of manmade drugs that contain phenethylamine, tryptamine, or piperazine.
Each of these drugs are very potent on their own and possess the ability to make users feel euphoric highs that are similar to, if not sometimes greater than, the real thing.
Since research chemicals are not at all regulated, there is serious risk potential for overdose. Often, these compounds are concocted by dealers and other users who have little knowledge of what they’re doing. The first time you buy from a dealer, you might get a weaker substance that is laced with a myriad of things from cornstarch to sugar. You then become accustomed to the high that the trace amount of the research chemical gives you. However, your second purchase could be from a different batch of drugs that weren’t cut with as much filler substance, wherein the same dose you were using before could be far more potent.
In many cases, circumstances like these lead to serious side effects — and in some cases — overdose. There were 10,176 visits to the emergency room for complications following the use of Molly in 2011 alone, per the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. Likewise, many people believe research chemicals aren’t as strong as the illicit substances they’re trying to mock. Therefore, users will often take larger doses of the synthetic variants in hopes of achieving a high similar to which the real thing would give them. This frequently leads to adverse health effects, inclusive of death in some cases.
Safety measures don’t only apply to the substance itself, but to the dangers in buying them and trusting that you’re getting what you’re asking for. One study examined lab results of 143 samples of Molly bought from street dealers. Results reported by the Huffington Post accounted that only 13 percent of the samples even contained MDMA, with more than 60 percent of the samples actually being bath salts.
Although their popularity among drug abusers has recently flooded news outlets in the past few years, bath salts aren’t a hot new commodity. Initially synthesized in the 1920s, they are known for producing a high similar to that of cocaine and are nothing more than synthetic cathinones — a copycat of mephedrone. While they’re marketed in a way that almost makes them seem safer, one study carried out by The Scripps Research Institute produced results that give credence to bath salts being more addictive in lab rats than methamphetamines. In 2009, they made their way to the United States and became wildly popular with 20 to 29 year olds, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
The consumption of bath salts was responsible for nearly 23,000 emergency room visits in 2011, per the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. They may be the most widely known designer drug now due to media reports springing up everywhere with stories of people high on bath salts behaving like flesh-eating zombies. While they certainly don’t have this violent effect on everyone, bath salts have become notorious for manifesting uncontrollable attacks from users who have later come to suffer serious legal charges. Recently, New Hampshire government officials declared a state of emergency after more than 40 people reported severe health reactions after using synthetic marijuana, according to KTLA News. These drugs are often sold in powdered form online and labeled as “plant food” or “insect repellant,” another way of sidestepping legalities and government regulations.
Known as K2 or spice, this drug is a synthetic cannabinoid capable of inflicting serious adverse health problems. Its effects are alike to those that marijuana would produce, but the dried product is often nothing more than roughage that is sprayed with a liquid chemical substance and allowed to dry. It is the spray which contains the mind-altering compound that is akin to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), not the dried leaves themselves. Most often, the leaves are rolled into a joint or smoked through a pipe or bong.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, adverse effects reported by spice users have included:
- Throwing up
- Accelerated heart rate
- Confused state
A 2011 survey reported by Drugs.com attested to synthetic marijuana being the second most popular drug among high school seniors, with natural cannabis taking the lead. It is likely that the popularity of such drugs was largely due to the ease of access kids had to them when they were for sale across the nation in gas stations and convenience stores. Fake marijuana products derived from research chemicals were often labeled as incense to bypass federal regulations before being banned.
Also known as 25i, NBOMe came along in 2003 but didn’t pick up hype as a designer drug ready for abuse until 2010. It mimics the effects of LSD with increased intensity and potency. Banned in late 2013, the drug is still making waves with youths. Scant amounts of the drug can inflict the user with seizures and cardiac or respiratory arrest and can even be fatal, according to KOMO News.
According to Erowid, there have been nearly a dozen documented deaths due to NBOMe. In the case of 17-year-old Tara Fitzgerald’s death due to an NOMBe overdose, three of her peers are facing murder charges in connection with the sale and distribution of the LSD-copycat synthetic, according to the Star Tribune.
Effecting users much the same way Ecstasy would, Molly — the pure crystalized form of MDMA — entered the illicit drug market in the US primarily through the club circuit. Easily administered in a pill, tablet or capsule form, the 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine drug is most popular among 16-to-24-year-old individuals who attend raves. When the UK’s version of Mandy came to the US as Molly, it took little time to grow in popularity, with 60.9 percent of Global Drug Survey respondents admitting to trying it in the past year in a 2013 survey, up from 26.5 percent in 2012, according to the Daily Beast.
Most often, the initial effects are felt within the first hour after ingestion with a peak of intensity after about 75 minutes to two hours and a slow waning of effects after around 3.5 hours, per one Psychopharmacology publication. According to Psychology Today, Molly carries with it some pretty substantial side effects, inclusive of:
- Agitation and irritation
- Depressed mood
- Gritting teeth and a sore jaw as a result
- Impulsive behaviors
- Waning appetite
- Cognitive impairment
Of the phenethylamine family, a popular drug known as 2C-E, Europa, and Tootsie is sometimes combined with Molly for enhanced effects. The drug claimed its first life in 2011 when the 19-year-old father of an infant died from an overdose of the drug he’d consumed at a party with friends, 10 of which also ended up in the hospital that night, their lives spared, according to ABC News.
As of May 2013, the European Union — the governing territory that regularly sees new variants of research chemicals before we do in the US — claimed to be enforcing attempts to regulate over 280 types of designer drugs, according to The Guardian. The Federal Analog Act has been around since 1986 and regulates drugs that are chemically similar to scheduled controlled substances. However, it only applies to drugs intended for human consumption, so it hasn’t been of great help in regulating the new wave of 2010-era research chemical-based concoctions.
Thus, in 2012, the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act was put into place in effort to regulate 26 of the chemical compounds, according to CNN News. Unfortunately, keeping up with the production of research chemical-based drugs is a nearly impossible feat. Most are coming from places outside of the United States, with the majority being from China. The government has a serious battle on their hands in terms of attempts to regulate the sale of these drugs when there are dozens of variations readily available to replace any one form that is at risk of being banned.
The inaction of law enforcement regulations does seem to be aiding in the epidemic to a certain extent. Likewise, incidents involving bath salts dropped from 3,490 in the last half of 2011 to 1,717 in the first half of 2012, according to the Huffington Post. While federal regulations weren’t yet in place, it is thought that education on the serious consequences involved with taking bath salts made an impact on these numbers.
In this day and age, the simplest way users get their hands on research chemicals is the Internet. One is more likely to find a source quickly on the World Wide Web than on any street corner. Those looking to make their own supply or distribute to others can easily scour the Internet for deals on bulk packages of these chemicals.
Finding the Future
For many, mental illness is a grim precursor to research chemical abuse that knows no bounds. When a mental health disorder goes undiagnosed, it is allowed to grow and fester, finding new ways to creep into departments of your life that you’ve always managed to control. If you seek our help here at Axis, we’ll treat all underlying conditions simultaneously and let you focus on your recovery.
Addiction to research chemicals is a fairly new treatment option in the world of drug rehabilitation facilities. At Axis, we believe there is no room to be behind the curve. That’s why we stay on top of patient demands and make sure we’re prepared to offer you the best care possible. Reach out to us now and let us help you change the way you’re living.