Illegal drugs have been circulating around in society for many years. There are new, readily available, highly addictive, and deadly, not to mention illegal drugs on the market now. OxyContin (oxycodone hydrochloride) is, officially, a prescribed pain reliever. However, it has been abused by people who have used it for non-medical reasons.
Oxycodone is an opiate, and it is addictive. It is considered to be a Schedule II controlled substance, under DEA regulation. The problem with oxycodone is that it is an opioid agonist, meaning that the more someone takes, the better they feel from its effects. For people who experience chronic pain, oxycodone offers a means of pain management. Those who abuse the drug and develop an addiction to the substance are primarily seeking the euphoria aspect of the medication. Some people ingest the substance through chewing, snorting, or injection of oxycodone in order to get “high”. As users become addicted, they develop a tolerance, so they need larger doses in an attempt to continue to experience the euphoric high.1 A street name for oxycodone is “hillbilly heroin”.2
MDMA (“ecstasy”, “X”, “molly”) is a type of drug that can also induce euphoria. In addition to the high, it decreases anxiety, increases a sense of intimacy with others, and has some psychedelic effects. While it can have medical benefits, such as when it is used by those who have PTSD or other anxiety and stress disorders, it also has a “street pill” illegal form. MDMA has been used at clubs, raves, and festivals. It has stimulatory effects and creates a feeling of a sort of widespread, shared communion.
MDMA is often combined with other types of drugs, such as LSD, mushrooms, or ketamine. There are also mentholated substances that are often combined with the drug, such as menthol cigarettes, lozenges, or vapor rub. Side effects of its use include dry mouth, jaw clenching, teeth grinding, lack of appetite, and difficulty concentrating. After-effects of MDMA can be depression, paranoia, anxiety, irritability, fatigue, lack of focus, insomnia, aches, and gastrointestinal problems. “Tuesday Blues” is a term used for the depression that comes after using MDMA on the weekend. Overdose is possible, and long-term mood side effects can also occur.3
One of the most terrifying new illegal drugs is a substance which is known as krokodil (also called desomorphine and Permonid). Derived from the opioid morphine, it has both sedative and analgesic effects which are fast-acting upon its use. It is far more potent than morphine, and it became known internationally in 2010 due to its illegal production in Russia. The drug is made from iodine, codeine, and red phosphorus and created using a process which is similar to that which is followed in making methamphetamine from pseudoephedrine. Like meth, krokodil is an impure substance. The byproducts are toxic and corrosive.
The reason desomorphine is called krokodil is that it is the Russian word for “crocodile”: the skin damage of the users has a scale-like, greenish appearance. The “high” of krokodil is similar to the one which its users experience on heroin, but it is also shorter in duration. Krokodil, however, is injected without purification, so it causes gangrene and severe tissue damage. Users may even require amputation of limbs. The life expectancy of the users is so low, due to the infections, that they may die within 2 years. The drug has made its way into the US, with early cases in 2013 reported in Phoenix, AZ and Joliet, IL.4
Another way to get high which is considered to be a cheaper substitute for methamphetamine or cocaine is bath salts. Bath salts is the common name for synthetic cathinones. Some other names which it might be sold under include Flakka, Bloom, Cloud Nine, Vanilla Sky, and White Lightning, to name a few. Visually, bath salts are white or brown powders of a crystal-like shape which are labeled as plant food, jewelry cleaner, or phone screen cleaner. Bath salts might be swallowed, snorted, smoked, or injected. The use of bath salts creates psychoactive, or mind-altering, effects in its users. Effects of the synthetic cathinones include the onset of paranoia, panic attacks, hallucinations, and violent behavior, and an increased sociable behavior and sex drive. Additionally, those who use bath salts are likely to also experience nosebleeds, nausea, dehydration, breakdown of their skeletal muscle tissue, kidney failure, and death.5
Carfentanil is another substance which falls under the category of Schedule II. Usually, it is used as a tranquilizing agent to subdue elephants and other large mammals. Some street names for this substance include Apache, China White, China Girl, and Goodfella, among others. The lethal dose for this substance is officially unknown, though it is likely to measure less than two milligrams. The substance is dangerous even to those who do not use it, as it can be absorbed through the skin and it could be accidentally inhaled in the form of airborne powder. Drowsiness, disorientation, respiratory depression or arrest, and sedation are a few symptoms which will occur within minutes of exposure to carfentanil.6
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