The Changing Drug Culture: Emerging Drugs of Abuse and Legal Highs

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3 Scopus citations


In recent years, there has been a large increase in the number of synthetic drugs used recreationally. One class of drugs is synthetic cannabinoids, which are sprayed onto herbal preparations and marketed under names such as K2 and spice. Others include amphetaminelike compounds, such as cathinones (eg, bath salts) and methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) (eg, ecstasy, Molly). New hallucinogens, such as Bromo-Dragonfly, and hallucinogens that have been used for centuries, such as Salvia divinorum, also are gaining popularity. Because these substances are sold labeled as not for human consumption and because the chemicals in them frequently change, they often are unregulated, and many users consider them legal, although they are not. Their use often goes undetected because testing for them is not included in routine drug screening. Nonetheless, these substances can be associated with significant toxicities, often because their concentrations are unpredictable. Adverse effects of synthetic cannabinoids include psychosis and other effects. Amphetaminelike drugs have stimulant effects and can cause hyponatremia and seizures. The new hallucinogens can cause serious vasoconstriction with ischemia. Clinicians, especially those working with adolescents and young adults (ie, the main users of these drugs), should be aware of these new substances and counsel patients about their adverse effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-24
Number of pages7
JournalFP essentials
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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