In active addiction, people want their drugs and would go to any lengths to get them. Old habits die hard, and the desire for instant gratification stays alive and well, even in sobriety. That’s why many people who embark on the path to recovery might attempt to spot loopholes in the definition of sobriety and seek comfort in “legal” mind- or mood-altering substances that are easily obtained in a smoke shop or through online stores and which might defy drug tests. Many of these substances are new and experimental and have yet to be thoroughly studied, classified and scheduled by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency; but with more and more reports of health complications related to these “legal highs” the DEA is cracking down on the legality, use and abuse of these seemingly innocuous substances.
Finding substances that chemically mimic the effects of cocaine, MDMA, methamphetamine, LSD, and marijuana is as easy as walking into a neighborhood tobacco shop. These substances are cleverly marketed as ethnobotanicals, aromatic incense, plant food, or bath salts and are sold under monikers such as “Ivory Wave”, “Vanilla Sky”, “Black Mamba”, “Snow Blow”, and “Charley Sheen”. Most of these products come with a warning that notes that the product being sold is not intended for human consumption.
As a result of increasing reports of health concerns from poison centers, hospitals, and law enforcement agencies, the United States DEA has issued an emergency scheduling authority to control these products for the time being, attributing the necessity to the fact that they pose a high threat to public safety.
The DEA does not plan to demonstrate any tolerance for those who manufacture, distribute, or sell these products anywhere in the US, and promises to shut down, arrest, and prosecute any offenders to the fullest extent of the law.
The DEA’s ban on these products will cover three synthetic stimulants, namely Mephedrone, methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) and Methylone, otherwise known as “bath salts” – all of which are insufflated for a speedy high like cocaine or methamphetamine.
These products are increasingly popular among young adults and teens and may be bought at a variety of shops, including head shops and tobacco shops, as well through online stores. However, these products are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for human consumption or medical use.
The immediate physical effects of using these substances include impaired perception, danger operating vehicles or machinery, reduced motor control, disorientation, extreme paranoia and violent episodes. Long-term physical effects are relatively unknown but anticipated as being severe. Some known side effects of using “bath salts” include increased heart rate, agitation, chest pain; paranoia, vomiting, dizziness, and excessive sweating.
Mephedrone was first synthesized and reported in a French academic journal in 1929, but did not appear on the drug market until 2003. It has been banned in numerous places, including Israel and Europe, since 2004.
MDPV has been marketed and sold as a “research chemical” since 2008, and has since been banned in Finland, Denmark and Sweden. Neither of these chemicals is a federally controlled substance in the United States.