The Drugs Just Keep Getting Scarier
I remember well the scare tactics in my younger years. A police officer came to my school and talked to the students about drugs. We sat Indian-style, some wide-eyed and captivated with the officer's holstered gun, others fixated on the next recess. Another discussion came from my parents, who dropped the term "peer pressure" into my vocabulary. And my other memory comes from middle school science class, where projected slides of brain scans with dark holes illustrated the dangers of drug use. Admittedly, the ensuing years left me with only glancing exposure to illicit drugs. I never even tried the stuff (really).
Now, as a doctor, I come face to face with the horrors of drug use on a fairly regular basis. Families are ripped apart, finances are ruined, and health gets flushed down the toilet. As new players arrive on the scene, the consequences and intensity of these dangers are continually increased.
A potent stimulant commonly known as Molly has emerged over the last five years in the waning popularity of ecstasy as a result of a rash of deaths that tainted the club music scene. Molly can be thought of as ecstasy's sister, as it is primarily a powder form of an illegal substance called MDMA, the active ingredient in ecstasy. Like ecstasy, Molly has been increasingly popular in the electronic music scene. References to Molly by popular artists such as Madonna, Kayne West, and Miley Cyrus have bolstered its use.
An increasing numbers of deaths have been linked to Molly over recent years. While a rush of energy and euphoria with a slight tendency for hallucination are reported with Molly use, the true experience is often quite different. Most Molly flooding the US and European market comes from Chinese chemical labs and contains potentially harmful synthetic stimulants.
This concocted drug is formulated from various herbal products sprayed with synthetic cannabinoids (marijuana) and is smoked to deliver the cannabis. Oddly, these drugs slipped under the radar of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) for some time and were sold as herbal incense or herbal smoking blends. Recently, the DEA began taking emergency measures to shut down the legal sale of these drugs from retail venues. The drug continues to be used widely, however, due to clever disguises and its elusiveness on urine drug testing.
Bath salts derive their name from their sale disguised as bath salts. They are potent stimulants in the fashion of cocaine or amphetamines and are known as synthetic cathinones. Cathinones are the natural stimulant found in the plant commonly known as Khat. Underground chemists began synthesizing similar compounds and selling them for consumption via snorting, swallowing, injecting, or smoking.
The crazy thing about these drugs is that they flew under the radar illegality for quite some time. They were sold online, in gas stations, and "lid shops" until the government mounted legal defense and classified them as illegal. Despite this, bath salt use continues to rise, as do related health problems.
This one is a home-cooked, intensely addictive concoction that is making its way west from Russia. Codeine, iodine, red phosphorus from match tips, cleaning solvent, hydrochloric acid, and gasoline are formulated into this injected drug. The name is derived from the Russian term for crocodile for the green scar-scales that develop from repeated injections. Breakdown of tissue occurs and gangrene is not uncommon, prompting the eventual loss of limbs. The drive to continue taking this drug despite the horrors it produces comes from its intensity. Krokodil is 10 times more potent than morphine and gives an immediate, but brief high. This drives an intense addiction.
Though this drug has become common, it bears mentioning in this context. Crystal meth has become a huge public health problem. Its users are quickly in the grip of this "cooked-up" stimulant that burns up the body's resources. The results are dramatic, causing the body to age decades in a matter of months. The teeth decay and fall out. Behavior often becomes erratic, and a person's family, friends, and resources quickly fall by the way side.
Drugs change, but the message is the same. They rob and steal all that is good and important in a person's life, cloaked in the lie of a brief high. Advances in science placed in common and unscrupulous hands have detracted from humanity through the formulation of these illicit drugs.