Typically when we think of designer items, we think of handbags, shoes, and clothing. We might look for these items to get a certain quality or because of the maker’s reputation. But, what are designer drugs? Designer drugs are the “knock-offs” of drugs. They are drugs that are created to imitate other drugs but be just different enough to avoid the regulations that apply to those drugs. It’s hard enough to keep up with the various drugs that can be abused, and designed drugs just add another level.  At Thrive Treatment, we understand how confusing it can be to understand the different drugs available to be abused and what it looks like when someone uses them. If you’re concerned about your drug use or that of a loved one, we are here to help. 

What Are Designer Drugs?

Designer drugs are illegally produced to intentionally be similar to illicit drugs but different enough to avoid the same regulations. While the laws were updated in 2012 to classify a number of these designer drugs as controlled substances, the drugs are still being distributed. As you ask yourself what are designer drugs, know that there is not just one category. Just as with illicit drugs, these drugs come in different types. Some examples of designer drugs are U-47700, Spice, K2, Flakka, and Bath Salts.  

U-47700 is a synthetic opioid similar to heroin, while K2 is a synthetic version of (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Bath salts and flakka are synthetic stimulants that produce the same effects as cocaine, methamphetamine, and ecstasy (MDMA). Many of these substances are available in head shops, smoke shops, convenience stores, gas stations, and online. 

What Do Designer Drugs Look Like?

One of the most concerning aspects of designer drugs is their appearance. Many of these substances look much like everyday household items. Designer drugs vary in their appearance depending on the drug. Bath salts look much like Epsom salts or plant food but can also be sold in capsules. Flakka is similar to bath salts and is in crystal form. U-47700, nicknamed pink or pinky, typically is sold in baggies and is a white or pink powder. Spice/K2 will often look similar to potpourri; it is smoked or drank as tea. 

Are Designer Drugs Addictive?

While their low price and availability can lead people to believe that these drugs are not as harmful, the opposite is true. And while designer drugs vary chemically from their counterparts, they are still addictive. Using designer drugs, even once, can have dangerous health consequences, including death. Using these substances repeatedly will likely lead to long-term health consequences and addiction. Over time, the use of any substance will alter the brain’s pathways and make it harder to function without the substance. Because designer drugs are created to produce the same effects as drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine, the same risk for addiction exists. Designer drugs are not drugs to be sought after in the way that name-brand handbags and shoes are coveted. Instead, designer drugs should be recognized as a danger and avoided entirely. 

Get Help Today at Thrive Treatment

At Thrive Treatment, we blend different modalities of treatment to help you succeed in sobriety. We take a holistic approach that integrates medical, psychiatric, and non-traditional interventions. Integrating relational and behavioral therapies, we put you on the path to sobriety, emotional health, and overall well-being.  If you or a loved one are facing a heroin addiction, we’re here to help. Located in beautiful Santa Monica, we can provide you with an individualized plan that blends modern and traditional practices. Contact us today and let us help you with your addiction! 

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