5 Commonly Abused Designer Drugs

The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines the term “designer drugs” as drugs that are made in laboratories using synthetic ingredients that might be similar to those found in nature. It’s a bit of a loose term, as almost every single drug sold in the United States is processed in some way, and often, chemists and laboratories have something to do with that processing. However, designer drugs are often considered slightly more dangerous than other forms of illicit drugs simply because very little is known about these drugs. The ingredient lists, the potency and the manufacture are all unknown, and the drugs can be remarkably dangerous as a result. These are five of the most commonly abused designer drugs, and all of them demonstrate the concerns of addiction experts quite well.


This drug was once considered a major drug of concern among young people, but according to the Monitoring the Future Survey, 2012 use rates among teens are lower than they were in the year prior, standing at just 3.8 percent among 12th graders. This is welcome news, as ecstasy can cause a severe boost in heart rate and temperature, and this can lead to death when the drug is taken during hot, sweaty dance parties. Ecstasy has also been linked to damage in cells that control memory and thinking.

Bath Salts

These hallucinogenic drugs can cause:

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Agitation
  • Combative behavior
  • Confusion
  • Psychosis
  • Chest pain

Bath salts became almost notorious in the summer of 2012, as a number of very violent acts were attributed to the use of this drug. According to TIME, many of these reports were false and people who did terrible things weren’t really on bath salts at all, but the fact remains that some people who take these drugs do things they regret, and the drugs really can be dangerous.

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Synthetic Marijuana

Drug developers have crafted a line of products that are sold under various names including spice, plant food and K2. These substances are sprayed with a synthetically generated form of drugs that work inside the human body in much the same way as marijuana does, but the additional chemicals may have an effect that marijuana could never replicate. For example, research conducted at the University of Alabama at Birmingham links synthetic marijuana use with kidney damage, and it’s unclear if this damage is reversible.

Research Chemicals

Drugs sold as research chemicals are typically similar to amphetamines, boosting heart rate and bringing people a sensation of power and authority. The drugs can also allow people to experience visions. The drugs in research chemicals are somewhat mysterious, however, as the manufacturers tend to vary their ingredients quite often in order to elude local drug laws. As a result, people who take research chemicals may not ever be really sure about the drugs they’re taking.

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This drug, also known as gamma hydroxybutyrate, can cause a euphoric high, but it can also cause severe muscle weakness and memory loss. As a result, it’s been associated with sexual assault, as perpetrators can spike a drink with this substance and perform their acts at will, without fearing retribution from the person who was attacked. Some people dose themselves, however, and they may develop addictions to this drug.

If you or someone you know is taking designer drugs, it’s time to get help. Please call us at Alta Mira and let us design a healing plan just for you.