Each year we see new drugs come into the country and wreak havoc in our community. We know the name of common drugs like heroin or crack, but some of the newest street drugs are grabbing hold of our loved ones and, at times, killing them. Unfortunately, law enforcement can’t detect many of the newest street drugs, and medical examiners aren’t testing for them because they don’t know they exist.
According to records from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States experienced a 30 percent increase in deaths attributed to overdose in 2020. Unfortunately, as new drugs emerge, they can easily go undetected through our borders. 1
How New Street Drugs Make it into the US
Scientists and labs around the world are manufacturing new drugs all the time. When these drugs are sent into the US, they may pass through security. If officers at an entry point are suspicious of the item, they can test the substance on site. These new and emerging drugs haven’t yet been identified, or they have minor modifications that will not necessarily react to basic drug testing. 2 The drugs pass the test and continue to their destination.
Essential Info About 5 of the Newest Street Drugs
That’s why identifying any new drugs and making sure both medical examiners and law enforcement officers are alerted to their existences is essential. Furthermore, anyone struggling with addiction along with their loved ones must be kept aware of the newest street drugs and their impacts.
Here’s what you need to know about five of the newest and most prevalent street drugs:
Xylazine is typically a veterinary drug used as a sedative, analgesic, and muscle relaxant for animals. The FDA rejected the drug for humans because it can significantly impact both blood pressure and heart rate.3
Essentially the drug causes a depression of the central nervous system and slows down a person’s breathing and heart rate. Some of the documented toxic effects of the drug included blurred vision, disorientation, drowsiness, staggering, coma, bradycardia, respiratory depression, hypotension, miosis, and hyperglycemia.4
What is alarming is that because of the sedative effect, researchers are also finding people need more doses of naloxone to reverse an overdose, and it takes longer for that person to wake up.
Many states are seeing an increase in xylazine use and death. Those states include Pennsylvania along with Ohio, Connecticut, and Maryland. Unfortunately, researchers believe the drug could rise in other states that may not routinely check for xylazine as part of the toxicology testing following an overdose death.
While some people may have heard reports on bath salts causing alarming behavior over the last five years, in 2020, the DEA published new information and concerns about bath salts.
These drugs come from the synthetic cathinone class of drugs, which essentially means drugs that stimulate the central nervous system.5 Bath salts mimic effects similar to other drugs, including cocaine, methamphetamine, and MDMA (ecstasy). Bath salts are usually ingested through sniffing or snorting the drug, but they can also be consumed orally, through smoking, or injected into veins once it’s mixed with a liquid.
Once ingested, bath salts can quicken the heartbeat. Some of the most common impacts on the body include hypertension, hyperthermia; prolonged dilation of the eye pupil, breakdown of muscle fibers; teeth grinding; sweating; headaches, palpitations, seizures, paranoia, hallucinations, and delusions.
Flakka (alpha-PVP) is on the DEA’s list of designer drugs. It’s similar to bath salts in their impact on a person who consumes them. Users will eat, snort, inject or vaporize Flakka.
Once consumed, a person using the drug may experience extreme bouts with paranoia and hallucinations.6 Those experiences have often led to violent and aggressive behavior along with self-injury.
Sometimes this self-injury leads to suicide, one of the most common links between the drug and death. Researchers have also found that the drug can cause a massive heart attack, raise the body’s temperature to dangerous levels, and cause kidney damage or failure. 7
Spice, K2, or Synthetic Marijuana
Spice/K2 or synthetic marijuana is also on the DEA’s list of designer drugs. This drug is a synthetic version of the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. The drug is often concealed to look like potpourri and is a mixture of plant material that has been sprayed with synthetic psychoactive chemicals. 8
People most commonly smoke this drug in makeshift joints. Users of K2 will also load it into pipes or E-cigarettes.
Once a person consumes it, they may experience paranoia, anxiety, panic attacks, hallucinations, and giddiness. The drug can increase heart rate and blood pressure. Some people have experienced convulsions and organ damage.
U-47700 is in the classification of novel synthetic opioids (NSO). The drug is 10-times more potent than morphine. With its strong emergence worldwide over the past five years, this drug is now a Schedule I drug in the US. 9
A November 2020 article in the National Library of Medicine 10 called U-47700 a prime example of a non-fentanyl NSO and associated the drug with “numerous intoxications and fatalities.”
Some of the negative impacts of using this drug include sedation and numbness; severe and even fatal respiratory depression; constipation, itching; seizures; and psychosis.
Worried a Loved One is Using New Street Drugs? Get Help Here
If you’re concerned that a loved one is using any of the newest street drugs covered here, our team at Ocean Hills Recovery is ready to help. We work with clients to beat their addiction and live the freedom of a substance-free life. Contact our team for assistance if you are struggling with an addiction or worried that a loved one might need help.