What Are Some of the New Street Drugs?
Some drugs have been around for thousands of years. People abused opium from poppy flowers (the same substance used to make heroin) as early as 3400 BC. Other drugs have made their debuts much more recently. Here’s an overview of some of the most recent street drugs and their effects:
Flakka is a synthetic cathinone drug. It takes the form of white or pink, foul-smelling crystals that a person can eat, snort, inject or vaporize in an e-cigarette. Vaporizing is a particularly dangerous method of injecting this drug, because it sends the drug quickly to the bloodstream and can lead to overdose. Flakka can cause a condition called “excited delirium” which involves paranoia, hyperstimulation, and hallucinations that lead a user to become aggressive or violent or to injure themselves. Flakka can lead to death by suicide or heart attack. It can also raise body temperature to a dangerous level and cause kidney damage or failure.
Kratom is an herbal supplement that comes from an evergreen tree native to Southeast Asia. It’s a mind-altering substance that also has pain-reducing effects. Some convenience stores, gas stations, and online shops sell powdered forms of the kratom leaf. There are also “kratom bars” sprinkled around the country that sell the drug in varying strengths in plastic containers that look like fruit juice bottles. On the street, kratom may be laced with hydrocodone or morphine. The concern over kratom is that it has led many drug addicts in recovery back to heroin and other hard drugs. It has also been linked with seizures and respiratory depression. The Drug Enforcement Administration has listed kratom as a drug of concern, and some states have banned it.
Similar to the THC in marijuana on a chemical level, synthetic cannabinoids are much stronger and more dangerous. They have led to overdose and aggressive and suicidal behavior. These drugs may take a few different forms:
- AB-PINACA, AB-FUBINACA (sold as Cloud 9, Relax or Crown). These drugs come as liquids in eyedropper bottles. Users often take the drugs via vaporizing devices, such as e-cigarettes or “hookah pens.” Effects of these drugs include drowsiness, racing heartbeat, hallucinations, aggressive behavior and vomiting.
- MAB-CHMINACA, ADB-CHMINACA (sold as Mojo, Spice, K2, and Scooby Snax). These forms of synthetic cannabinoids cause agitation, anxiety, raised heart rate and blood pressure, muscle spasms, paranoia, nausea and vomiting, seizures and tremors. They may also cause intense hallucinations and psychotic episodes, including violent thoughts or suicidal tendencies.
Pure caffeine powder has become increasingly popular with young people. Easily available online, caffeine powder acts as a powerful stimulant; just one teaspoon of pure caffeine powder has the same amount of caffeine as 25 cups of coffee—a deadly dose. Besides death, caffeine overdose can lead to seizures, erratic and fast heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and disorientation.
Fentanyl is an opioid drug 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. Some people abuse fentanyl by itself. Others combine it with heroin to make it stronger. There have also been reports of fentanyl-laced party drugs and marijuana.
N-Bomb may refer to any of three synthetic hallucinogens: 25I-NBOMe, 25C-NBOMe and 25B-NBOMe. On the street, dealers sell these drugs as substitutes for mescaline or LSD. Sometimes called “legal acid,” “smiles” or “25-I,” the drugs come as powders, liquids or soaked into blotter paper (like LSD). These drugs work on the serotonin receptors in the brain and produce strong hallucinations. They are dangerous and can lead to seizures, heart attack, breathing problems and death.
Syrup, Purple Drank, Sizzurp or Lean
All these terms refer to a mixture of prescription-strength codeine-promethazine cough syrup with soda. Codeine produces feelings of relaxation and euphoria, and promethazine is an antihistamine that acts as a sedative. Because it acts on the heart and lungs, this mixture presents a high risk of fatal overdose. It can be particularly dangerous when mixed with alcohol.
A toxic homemade opioid that started as a cheap substitute to heroin on the streets of Russia, krokodil has made its way into the United States. It is a synthetic form of an opioid-like drug called desomorphine made by combining codeine tablets with other toxic ingredients such as lighter fluid and industrial cleaning products. When a person injects krokodil, which is Russian for “crocodile,” scaly, green-gray dead skin forms at the injection site. Severe cases of krokodil abuse have led to amputations.