Thursday, August 16, 2012

New Test for Synthetic Drugs may Deter Some Abuse


“Mr. Nice Guy,” the synthetic drug known as “spice” that brands itself as “100% drug test safe” is in for a not so nice surprise – last week Omega Laboratories, Inc. announced that it created an oral drug test for synthetic drugs like spice and bath salts. Also, any rebranding efforts on the part of “Mr. nice guy” will be inhibited by the recent ban and crackdown on spice and bath salts nationally. Obama signed a bill in June that banned the main chemicals in synthetic drugs and in July a coordinated raid resulted in over 90 arrests of large and small scale suppliers and distributors of the drugs.

Bath salts and spice have been branded as “drug test safe” because many of its consumers are teens and young adults who use these synthetic drugs while in addiction treatment programs, drug court programs or under parent supervision who administer at-home drug tests. Because such a high rate of abusers used the drug solely because it didn’t show up on drug tests, the new drug test may deter some abuse of synthetic drugs.

However, while the synthetic drug test is a great advancement, some ask "after we administer the test and it's positive, then what?" There is little is known about the effects of the various chemicals in synthetic drugs. Although hospitals can now test for the main chemicals, they don’t necessarily know how to minimize their effects – long term or even short term. For example, an alcoholic facing severe dehydration gets a banana bag to rehydrate, those who have overdosed on opiates get naloxone, but what is the antidote or fix for those on bath salts or spice? Emergency room visits and calls to poison control centers for synthetic drugs have increased at alarming rates over the past few years, with accounts of paranoia, delusions and severe violence. So far, the violence associated with synthetic drugs has often necessitated a combination of police officers, medical personnel and hospital staff as an “antidote” to subdue those on the drugs - but nothing purely medical yet.

Fortunately several drug treatment centers are innovating when it comes to treatment for synthetic drugs and creating specific programs for those who abuse and are addicted to these substances. For example, clients who have abused synthetic drugs have longer periods of detox, observation and evaluation because of the vulnerabilities – mental and physical, associated with the drugs. 


Despite the fact that there isn’t a lot of information on the effects of the drugs or why they cause psychotic episodes, great strides have been made. Considering that these drugs have swept the market just over the past few years, already having a ban on the substances, massive arrests, a way to drug test for them and innovative drug rehab facilities for those who abuse them is a great start.

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