Inexpensive, synthetic drugs are becoming an increasingly popular way to achieve a recreational high, are easy to purchase and are extremely dangerous. Officially known as Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS), these drugs are created by chemists and are openly available online, at convenience stores, tobacco/vaping shops and gas stations. The packaging often features eye-catching, shiny plastic bags and bright logos.
These lab-created stimulants are designed to produce results similar to cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy, LSD and PCP. Modeled after these “classic” illicit drugs, the synthetic drugs can be as harmful as those they mimic. NPS drugs are usually marketed as nondrug products with innocuous names and labeled "not for human consumption" to minimize legal scrutiny.
Law enforcement has categorized more than 300 varieties of NPS drugs. Street names include Bath Salts, Flakka, Gravel, Green Giant, Joker, K2, MDMA, Molly, N-bomb, Scooby Snax, Silver Bullet, Smiles, Spice, Vanilla Sky, and many others.
Most NPS drugs are available in tablet, capsule, liquid or powder form, and are made to be snorted or swallowed. Others come laced on edible items, or soaked onto blotter papers. Users can experience symptoms of nausea, vomiting, paranoia, hallucinations, delusions, suicidal thoughts, seizures, chest pains, increased blood pressure and heart rate, and violent outbursts. These drugs have also resulted in overdose deaths.
Signs of someone having taken such mood-altering drugs include:
• appearing confused or speaking in a way that doesn't make sense
• smelling of marijuana
• slurred speech
• anxiety or irritability
• paranoia and/or hallucinations
If you are concerned for the health and safety of a loved one and need acute care for a drug-related issue, contact a trusted health care professional or your County Department of Health. For general information, visit the National Institute on Drug Abuse.