Designer drugs (sometimes also referred to as 'club drugs') are a particular class of synthetic drugs most often associated with 'underground' youth dance parties called 'Raves', wherein participants listen to 'techno' music and experiment with psychoactive substances. These drugs have been created by changing the molecular structure of other existing drugs, to create something new with similar pharmacological effects -- hence, the name 'designer drug.' They are plentiful, cheap -- and dangerous. For example, the pharmaceutical drug fentanyl (which was originally created as an anesthetic) has been modified to be 80 to 1,000 times more potent than heroin.

Prepared by underground, amateur chemists known as "cookers," designer drugs can be injected, smoked, snorted or ingested.

The three main drugs which serve as the basis for 'designer drugs' are PCP, fentanyl, and amphetamine/methamphetamine. Once 'changed,' they become known by a variety of street names -- for example, XTC, Ecstasy, Adam, Lover's Speed, Special K, Fantasy and Nature's Quaalude. Most have a rapid onset of affect (1 to 4 minutes) and a short duration of action (generally 30 - 90 minutes, and no more than a few hours). They are sold as tablets or capsules, and often produce feelings of stimulation and euphoria, a sense of well-being, and various sensory distortions. Higher doses can lead to paranoia, hallucinations, violent or otherwise irrational behavior -- and fatal overdoes.

Some designer drugs, like GHB, are depressants, so they are used when an individual is 'coming down' from a stimulant like Ectasy.

According to Dr. Gary Wadler, a New York University School of Medicine professor and lead author of the book "Drugs and the Athlete", it is likely that no two doses of any designer drugs are identical in structure or strength, changing from batch to batch and from 'chemist' to 'chemist.' "Consequently, the possible side effects are as endless as the chemicals themselves and as unpredictable as Russian roulette. It is only a matter of time before the user experiences one or more negative and potentially harmful side effects."

In general, the physical symptoms that are common among users of designer drugs include:

    * Hypertension
    * Increased heart rate
    * Clenched teeth
    * Blurred vision
    * Uncontrolled tremors
    * Drooling
    * Anorexia
    * Nausea and vomiting
    * Impaired speech
    * Total paralysis
    * Chills and sweating
    * Dehydration and heat exhaustion
    * Respiratory depression
    * Seizures
    * Permanent brain damage
    * Death

Some common psychological side effects include:

    * Confusion
    * Irritability
    * Severe anxiety
    * Extreme emotional sensitivity
    * Irrational thinking
    * Depression
    * Amnesia
    * Violent behavior
    * Insomnia
    * Hallucinations

Two of the most popular 'designer drugs are:
    1. ECSTASY -
    2. KETAMINE or 'Special K' -- It usually comes as a liquid in its pharmaceutical form (stolen vets supplies will probably come in this form) although it is also found as a white powder or pill. It can be either snorted or swallowed as a powder and either swallowed or injected as a liquid.


    Ketamine causes hallucinations (the user may feel as if they have entered another reality) and as an anaesthetic stops the user feeling pain, which could lead the user to cause unwitting injury to him or herself. It also lowers the heart rate, so it can lead to oxygen starvation to the brain and muscles. An overdose can also cause the heart to stop.

    Like most anaesthetics, eating or drinking before taking ketamine may cause vomiting. Temporary paralysis has been reported in some users but is rare.

    Tolerance to ketamine can be quickly built up if it is used regularly. It is not known whether ketamine use can lead to psychological or physical dependence, although both may be likely in some individuals.

For COLOR PHOTOGRAPHS of various designer drugs and other drugs, click HERE

For a list of STREET TERMS about drugs, click HERE

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