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While many new synthetic drugs – sometimes called new psychoactive substances, or NPSs – have received a great deal of media attention in the past few years, the research chemicals these drugs are based on are not new. Still, the widespread production and distribution of these substances specifically for dangerous recreational abuse is a new problem facing the United States.
Unpredictable drugs like bath salts or Spice are the most infamous of the modern research chemicals. While these compounds have been listed as illegal, manufacturers adjust one or two points on the molecule to create a drug that is technically new, but chemically similar to the original, and then release it to the unregulated legal high market. Since these are altered and not tested before they are sold, much is unknown. It is only predictable that these drugs will bind to the same receptors in the brain. Beyond that, it is hard to say what psychological and physical effects the drug will produce and how long it will remain in the body.
As the name implies, research chemicals were originally designed by organizations, typically pharmaceutical companies, to produce a potential new medication. Prior to the Internet, the formulas of these research chemicals were difficult to obtain; however, many illicit manufacturers find chemical information online for free, and then produce dangerous intoxicants based on untested opioids, cannabinoids, stimulants, steroids, and much more.
Some kinds of research chemicals are more widely manufactured and abused than others. The top five most famous research chemicals of abuse are outlined below.
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While many well-known intoxicating drugs like alcohol, marijuana, heroin, and cocaine are abused across the country and cause numerous overdoses and chronic health problems every year, new synthetic versions of these drugs are being released without any testing. Research chemicals mimicking cannabinoids, opioids, stimulants, and hallucinogens are intensely dangerous because their effects are unpredictable; they can be very harmful physically, last for a very long time, lead to permanent psychosis or damage to internal organs, or cause spontaneous death. There is no safe way to dose these substances. People who begin abusing these drugs need to seek help immediately.
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