Synthetic drugs: their main types, effects and characteristics

Synthetic drugs are substances created in laboratories that have psychoactive effects and are traded illegally, although in many cases they take advantage of the legal vacuum that exists to define what an illegal drug is.

These substances are at the origin of drugs created to improve the health of patients suffering from different diseases but which, after discovering their side effects, were discarded for therapeutic purposes still reused by the drug market.

There are thousands of them and below we will look at the main types of synthetic drugs which is on the gray market.

    What are synthetic drugs?

    Synthetic drugs are chemicals made in the lab that cause some sort of effect on the central nervous system, inducing potentially dangerous psychoactive effects in addition to various organic alterations. Most are substances originally manufactured for therapeutic purposes but, being dangerous, they have been discarded, but drug traffickers and some unscrupulous chemists and pharmacists are recovering and trading them illegally.

    Many synthetic drugs are sold as designer drugs, which are attractive to young people because of their striking format, which comes in the form of colored pills, vials with attractive liquids, and various bags of powder. These drugs are synthesized taking into account the current legality, modifying the original composition of the drug on which they are based to prevent it from being classified as illegal. Basically, they consist of replicas of drugs discarded for therapeutic purposes, but with some changes in their composition, rendering them incapable of being considered an illegal crude substance.

    However, according to the authorities, they are catching up with the new drugs on the market and making them illegal. The chemists who produce them change their “prescription” to continue their activities. So synthetic drugs constitute what has been called the gray market, halfway between legal pharmaceuticals and the black market with totally illegal drugs. Designer drugs are no longer drugs that are harmful to the body, but since there are a lot of new ones every time, the authorities are having a really hard time closing the market.

    Some of these synthetic drugs are sold both on the Internet and in stores under the label “not intended for human consumption”, marketing them as herbal incense, plant fertilizer, bath salts or jewelry cleaner. In this way, their manufacturers wash their hands when the authorities draw their attention to addictive drug use by their buyers, telling those manufacturers that they are making it clear that they are not fit to consume them.

    dangerous effects

    There are thousands of synthetic drugs, and each causes different psychoactive effects, although in most cases they are used to inhibit pain, alternate visual and acoustic perceptions, and change mood. But despite these “positive” effects, there are many more negative ones that cause, both in the short and long term, all dangerous.

    In the short term, they can lead to memory loss and poor appetite as well as mental problems such as anxiety, depression, obsessions, sleep disturbances, panic attacks, and aggression. They can cause strokes, thromboses and even lead to the death of the user. They can also cause hyperthermia, i.e. an increase in body temperature, inducing dehydration in the consumer. In the long term, they can cause irreversible neurological damage.

    Main types of synthetic drugs

    As we have mentioned, the synthetic drug market is a world that takes advantage of existing legal loopholes when a new drug is introduced, even if it is only a matter of time before it is declared illegal, which motivates its manufacturers to modify the prescription. This means that the drugs available on the gray market are constantly changing formats, making the long list of synthetic drugs that we can find illegally very long.

    Also, below we will see some of the most striking effects, the effects they produce, their composition and several of their trade names.

    1. Synthetic catinones

    Synthetic catinones they have a similar chemical composition to that of the Catha edulis plant cultivated in East Africa. These drugs are commonly marketed as “bath salts” and can be obtained online. Among the most notable are methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) and mephedrone. MDPV is 10 to 50 times more potent than cocaine and the risk of overdose is very high.


    Synthetic catinones are sold in small jars containing a fine whitish or slightly yellow powder with the label to give a stimulating bath, as fertilizer for plants and with the protection of “unfit for human consumption”. These drugs can be inhaled, smoked, ingested or injected.

    They can be given many names: Buzzing, Vanilla Sky, Ocean, Ball Eight, White Dove or White Girl are just a few.


    Consumption of this medication causes the user to experience strange homicidal and suicidal behaviors in addition to suffering from paranoia and hallucinations. The person feels terrified and reacts violently in front of others. They may also suffer from restlessness, insomnia, irritability, panic attacks, loss of body control, difficulty thinking clearly, dizziness, delirium, and depression.

    Regarding physiological effects, synthetic catinones can cause liver and kidney failure, as well as seizures. These are highly addictive drugs that cause chest pain, increased heart rate, nosebleeds, sweating, nausea, and vomiting.

    2. Synthetic cannabinoids

    Cannabinoids are synthetic substances that they mimic the effects of marijuana even though chemically they have nothing in common with this herb except to cause a reaction in the body similar to that of natural smoked marijuana.

    In the case of synthetic cannabinoids, these are sprayed onto the grass to be smoked later, with the damiana plant or shepherdess’ weed (Damiana) being the most used. This plant already contains a mild medicine that causes a euphoric reaction.


    Synthetic cannabinoids are sold in aluminum packaging, labeled with different names: K2, K3 Legal, Spice Gold, King Kong, Cloud 9 or any of the names that come to mind of the manufacturer. It is generally sold as incense or for spraying plants.

    The drug itself has several names in drug jargon, directly referring to the chemical formula of cannabinoids: JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-370, HU-210, CP 47.497, AM-1248 and XLR-11 .

    The acronym JWH refers to the inventor of this substance, John W. Huffman, who developed cannabinoids with the intention of creating drugs to help patients with multiple sclerosis or AIDS, and when he learned their illicit use. he felt very upset and disappointed.


    Synthetic cannabinoids they have effects four times greater than those produced by marijuana if it is smoked. At first they start to act slowly but then their effect is much stronger, reaching the point that the person can be surprised by anything that “goes up”.

    They cause restlessness, rapid heartbeat, confusion, nausea and dizziness. There have also been reports of people experiencing chest pain after consuming synthetic cannabinoids, in addition to serious heart damage.

    3. Synthetic cocaine

    Synthetic cocaine chemically emulates cocaine but, unlike this drug, its design version is legal in most countries. It has anesthetic properties and there are currently two forms of the drug that are on the gray market: 3- (p-fluorobenzoyloxy) tropane, known as pFBT; and dimethocaine.


    This copy of cocaine is available in stores and on websites. labeled as a research chemical or plant fertilizer. They are consumed by inhalation, as is done with genuine cocaine.

    Some of the names that dimethocaine is receiving in the market include Mind Melt, Amplified, and Mint Mania.


    It has stimulating effects and that is why it can cause high blood pressure and increased heart rate. It can cause anxiety and psychotic episodes, Although they are temporary.

      4. Ketamine

      Ketamine is synthesized and used as a tranquilizer for animals after being discarded as a human anesthetic.. The reason was that it causes some nasty side effects including restlessness and hallucinations. Chemically, it is very similar to Angel Powder (PCP).


      Your purchase for the veterinary clinic is legal. Ketamine users get it by stealing it from vets or buying it directly from those who have no remorse for selling it.

      is used in pill, powder or liquid form and is consumed by smoking mixed with herbs, inhaling or by injection in the veins or muscles. In drops, it can be administered directly into the eyes, skin or in a glass with drink.

      It is sold commercially as Ketaved, Tekaset, Vetamine, Vetalar and Ketalar. It receives various nicknames in the jargon of its consumers like Vitamin K, Special K, Super K, Kit Kat, Jet, K, Lady K, Super Acid and Cat Valium.


      It causes sedation, dissociation, that is, a disconnection of self-awareness and our own thoughts., In addition to the aforementioned hallucinations.

      If consumed for a long time, ketamine has the particularity of causing irreversible damage to the bladder and even destroying it. Many drug addicts experience severe pain when urinating and require surgery to be able to repair their blisters. Sometimes the damage is so severe that the bladder must be removed.

      5. Ecstasy

      MDMA or ecstasy is a phenethylamine widely consumed in concerts, music festivals and nightclubs. The reason is that it causes a sharp perception of music and lights, elements that are not lacking in such events.


      MDMA can be found on the drug trafficking market in the form of colorful pills with very striking designs or logos, referencing the pop culture symbol. They can be sold in packs or individually.


      This makes the heartbeat and breathing more noticeable, as well as a drastic increase in body temperature, which can lead to death from overheating. It also makes you closer to others and more sensitive to the skin. Pdo not provoke paranoia attacks, panic attacks.

      When the effects start to wear off, they may experience cramps in their jaw muscles, which is why many ecstasy users wear pacifiers to keep their teeth from grinding.

      6. Tryptamines

      Tryptamines are synthetic hallucinogenic drugs. these drugs they have effects similar to those of psilocybin, Substance found in hallucinogenic mushrooms.


      They can find tryptamines sold as a light-colored powder in plastic bags, labeled “research chemicals.” They can be obtained very easily on the Internet, which is how young people buy them.


      Among its psychoactive effects are the distortion of sight, sound and time. The consumer is unable to make rational judgments, which makes them more likely to take risks and get hurt. He may also suffer from amnesia although this is a rather transient condition.

      Its most striking physical effect is to cause muscle tension to the extent that it breaks muscles, tension in the jaw, nausea and vomiting.. Other symptoms include panic attacks, anxiety, agitation, and confusion.

      7. Piperazines

      Piperazines were originally created as antidepressants, but their therapeutic use was discontinued due to problems with their consumption.


      These drugs are sold as party pills and he deceives his consumers by telling them that they are made from natural herbs, Although they are pure laboratory chemistry.

      These drugs can be obtained in combination with other designer drugs, including amphetamines, ketamine and ecstasy, as well as natural and synthetic cocaine. Some pills marketed under the name MDMA are actually a combination of piperazines and caffeine.


      There are several physical effects of consuming piperazines, including lack of appetite, headaches, tremors, upset stomach, chills, and sensitivity to light and noise, as well as tonic seizures. -clonic. It can cause death.

      Psychological effects include mood swings, confusion, irritability, insomnia, fatigue, panic attacks, and fear of losing control.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Wohlfarth A, Weinmann W (2010). “Bioanalysis of New Design Drugs”. Bioanalysis. 2 (5): 965-79. doi: 10.4155 / bio.10.32. PMID 21083227
      • Reneman L. (2003). “Conception Drugs: How Dangerous Are They?” J. Neural Transm. Extra cost. (66): 61-83. doi: 10.1007 / 978-3-7091-0541-2_4. ISBN 978-3-211-01316-8. PMID 14582803
      • Venhuis BJ, Block-Type L, by Kaste D (2008). “Designing Drugs in Herbal Aphrodisiacs”. Forensic sciences. Int. 177 (2-3): e25-7. doi: 10.1016 / j.forsciint.2007.11.007. PMID 18178354
      • Narconon (sf) Classes of synthetic drugs. Narconon. Los Angeles, United States. Retrieved from:

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