The Noticeable Signs of Self-Harm from Addiction: A Treatment Guide

In the United States, self-harm and addiction are two big issues with devastating effects. Unfortunately, the problem usually starts early.

Each year, 1 in 5 females and 1 in 7 males engage in self-injury, with an estimated 90% of them beginning in adolescent years.

People who are struggling with addiction are far more likely to engage in this self-destructive behavior, and it needs to be addressed.

If you believe a loved one is engaging in self-harm, it is important to find out for sure and address the problem. Let’s find out how.

Self-Harm and Addiction

Unfortunately, it seems as if self-harm and addiction go hand-in-hand too often. Depression is likely to lead to addiction as well as the other way around.

Why do people self-harm? Well, it is never intended as an antidote, but simply an outlet for temporary relief.

Sadly, self-harm can be as addictive as the substance they are abusing. This is because temporary relief is never enough to solve a chronic problem, and the person suffering may feel the need to do it more.

While self-harm is widely associated with cutting, that is far from the only method that people in pain will use.

While cutting and burning are the most common methods, many people choose unique outlets (that we won’t discuss) to relieve their emotional pain.

Some people are more likely to harm themselves than others, but that is not always relevant. While an estimated 4% of adults are believed to self-harm, high school and college students are believed to self-harm at a rate between 15% and 35%.

While self-harm is not intended to be lethal, mixing the process with drugs or alcohol, in this case, is certainly a dangerous combination that needs to be addressed. So how do we find out?

The Noticeable Signs of Self-Harm

When somebody is struggling with addiction, they will likely try to hide it or deny it. The problem here is that when somebody is already in the mindset of hiding the truth, they are likely to do what they can to keep their self-harming habits to themselves.

Luckily, there are a few indicators that we can use to determine if somebody is harming themselves, or if they are at risk for such a dangerous habit.

Behavioral Signs

Behavioral clues can be very helpful in determining self-harm. These behaviors should be monitored if you believe your loved one is hurting themselves. Here are just a few examples.

If your loved one is constantly wearing long-sleeve shirts or sweatshirts even in warm weather, this should be looked into. If you are in a warm environment, try asking them if they want to take off their sweatshirt or change into something more weather-appropriate to gauge their response.

If your loved one is buying or using their bandage supply frequently or keeping antibiotic ointment with them, asking why they carry it can give you the answers you need.

Isolation and portraying fear of being around people at certain times is a possible indicator. Try encouraging them to join you in a social activity to see their response and hopefully get them out of the problematic environment.

Having razor blades or any burning materials stored in their personal spaces are key indicators, but we can’t advise you to look into their belongings as this may affect their trust and even make the situation worse. Noticing these materials naturally is a big indicator.

Physical Signs

Self-harm is not always as obvious as visible scars on somebody’s wrist. Many people will try to hide any marks in any way necessary, and there are many ways to hide it.

Some people will try to harm themselves on body parts that can be covered by a bathing suit. For both men and women, scars are more likely to appear on their upper thighs or hips.

Other methods could be using techniques that don’t leave scars, but we won’t get into details on those methods.

So, unless you are able to look for scars when they are not visible with shorts and a t-shirt, it can be tricky to notice physical signs.

If somebody fits the behavioral criteria, look for any physical signs that you can, such as walking strangely while under the influence as if they have just been injured.

What To Do

If a loved one is harming themselves, it is time to step in—in a loving manner, of course. These are very delicate situations that need to be handled appropriately.

An intervention is appropriate for the gravity of such a situation, but they need to be proper interventions. Remember that addiction and self-harm are two of the most dangerous problems for somebody’s personal safety, so intervening needs to be done correctly.

Offer the person as much support as possible, but be sure to give direct solutions to their issues in the form of treatment.

Self-harm is not a side effect of addiction; it is a behavior associated with depression and a lack of self-worth. Because of this, dual diagnosis treatment may be the best help that your loved one can receive.

Dual diagnosis treatment is specially designed for people who are struggling with addiction as well as a mental health disorder. No matter the addiction, self-medication often follows with PTSD, anxiety, and depression.

This may be the best way to get your loved one the help they need.

Next Steps

It is very clear that self-harm and addiction are both serious issues that need to be addressed, and it is extremely overwhelming when the two collide.

However, even if it is scarier, it becomes more important to solve the issue as quickly as possible before any serious damage has been done.

If you believe it is time to seek treatment for somebody you care about, look into our treatment options and get started today. To speak with someone immediately, please contact us.

The Upside of Sober Living Communities

Recovering from substance use or abuse can seem like a herculean task at the outset, but it’s important for those seeking relief to remember that the road to recovery doesn’t have to be lonely. In sober living communities, you commit to recovery and a better life alongside others with similar experiences and hardships. With company and community comes support, structure, and the accountability necessary to keep you and your peers focused on the future. Not only that—living in a community also helps you to establish a network of people to communicate with following treatment. In the accompanying infographic, we’ve taken a closer look at the benefits associated with sober living communities, as well as some statistics related to treatment and recovery.

The Upside of Sober Living Guide

Understanding Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms

Understanding Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms
Understanding Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms can be difficult in your journey to recovery.

Profound Treatment Los Angeles can help with understanding fentanyl withdrawal symptoms. It is incredibly important to be aware of any and all possible barriers to your sobriety.

Fentanyl was in the news recently for the accidental overdose of famous singer Prince. The number of overdoses caused by this drug has been rising for years, with hospitals seeing more emergency room visits, seizures caused by drug use, and overdose deaths.

The statistics on Fentanyl abuse are staggering. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting the number of deaths from synthetic opioid abuse increased 80% from 2013 to 2014. In Ohio, that number jumped to 500%.

These statistics are frightening. Our goal at Profound Treatment located in Los Angeles is to ensure that you don’t become another statistic. 

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid. This  means that it is man-made, rather than found naturally. Opioids are normally prescribed to patients that require severe pain management, such as those recovering from surgery or cancer.

Fentanyl works by blocking pain receptors in the brain. It also increases the production of the hormone dopamine. This gives you feelings of relaxation and euphoria. 

Fentanyl abusers may smoke or even eat the opioid as well. Most alarmingly, medical professionals have seen a rise in “cutting” fentanyl with another drug, such as heroin or cocaine in order to intensify their effects.

This is extremely dangerous. Fentanyl is 50 times more powerful than heroin and almost 100 times more potent than morphine. According to a recent documentary, Death by Fentanyl, taking a dose of pure fentanyl just the size of 3 sugar crystals can kill an adult.

While fentanyl is prescribed for the relief of physical pain, many abusers, especially those who obtain the drug illegally, use it as a temporary release from emotional pain. 

Who is at risk for Fentanyl abuse?

Fentanyl doesn’t discriminate when it comes to whom it affects. We have seen mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers come into our facility because the powerful opiate has caused such great damage to their lives. 

There are certain factors that can affect one’s likelihood of developing addiction. Studies have shown that some people may have a genetic predisposition to becoming addicts. Others may find it hard to resist social pressures from friends and family who also use drugs. Sometimes, it can come down to psychological triggers or trauma that seek the relief of opiates. One or all  of these factors may lead to addiction. Regardless of the reason, sobriety can still be achieved. 

How does Fentanyl affect you?

Serious health problems caused by fentanyl abuse can appear in even a short amount of time.  Physically, you might notice that breathing becomes harder and more labored and that your immunity. Your body’s ability to fight off illness has been compromised. Stomach problems and other gastrointestinal issues can arise. General feeling of being tired and weak are common.

Fentanyl can cause severe heart damage. It works as a depressant, slowing down bodily functions, including those of your heart.  Prolonged opioid abuse may cause QT syndrome. This is a defect that slows the electric conduction of your heart. You don’t have to be using fentanyl for that long before complications like heart palpitations and arrhythmia to arise.

Most seriously, fentanyl can kill. As we learned from those earlier statistics,  it does so with alarming regularity.  Fentanyl affects the part of your brain that controls respiratory functions and can slow your breathing down to the point where it actually stops. If your brain goes without oxygen for extended periods of time, it can cause irreversible damage and even death.

The signs of a fentanyl overdose include clammy skin, seizures, severe drowsiness, low blood pressure, slowed heartbeat and respiratory reduction.

Fentanyl can also change who you are as a person. You may become depressed, anxious and paranoid, have personality changes, or suffer from hallucinations. It can affect your relationships with others, making you become more withdrawn and isolated from friends and family. When you abuse fentanyl, you learn very quickly that there is no “you” anymore, there is only “you on fentanyl.”

Understanding Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms

Because fentanyl is such an incredibly strong and addictive drug, your body will experience powerful fentanyl withdrawal symptoms.  Depending on how the drug was administered, you may start to feel these symptoms within 12 hours after your last dose of fentanyl.  Patch users may not see symptoms until after the first 24 hours because it is an extended-release medication.

Below we have listed some of the more common symptoms reported. These symptoms can range from merely being annoying and uncomfortable to almost painful.

  • Fatigue: Feeling exhausted, both mentally and physically.
  • Insomnia: Difficulty asleep or staying asleep during withdrawal.
  • Sweating: Sweating more profusely than normal, especially at night.
  • Fever: A spike in body temperature is a common symptom.
  • Headache: Mild discomfort to intensive migraines.
  • Pupil Dilation: Sensitivity to sunlight.
  • Shivering: Internal temperature fluctuating, causing goosebumps at times.
  • Itchiness: Some may feel like the skin is crawling. This is a normal and usually subsides after a few days.

Additional Symptoms:

  • Yawning: Former fentanyl users report excessive yawning during the withdrawal process.
  • Nausea: Feelings of nausea or vomiting.
  • Diarrhea: Opiates tend to cause constipation, so diarrhea is very common when coming off the drug.
  • Muscle pain or cramps: It is normal to experience muscle pain once the drug has left your system.
  • Anxiety, Irritability, and Agitation: Former users reported feelings of anxiety and irritability once they are no longer on the drug.
  • Increased heart rate: Heart palpitations or an increased heart rate.
  • High blood pressure: Blood pressure tends to lower when on fentanyl due to the depressive activity in your central nervous system. Blood pressure may shoot up for a short period of time during withdrawal. Medications are available to counteract this under medical advice.
  • Depression: Feelings of depression, or suicide may occur. Opioids produce endorphins, which make you feel happy or euphoric. When you quit using fentanyl, your body has to produce natural occurring hormones on its own again. Feelings of suicide should never be ignored. If you have these feelings, please consult a medical professional.
  • Some experience severe symptoms such as cardiac arrhythmias, seizures, dehydration, and strokes. If you suspect you may be at risk for any of these issues, consult a medical professional immediately.

Ending Fentanyl abuse

Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms will likely continue until you make the decision to end the abuse.  Finding sobriety after a fentanyl addiction and overcoming fentanyl withdrawal symptoms is no small task. Due to the drug being powerfully addictive, getting and staying sober can seem nearly impossible when done alone. We strongly recommend seeking assistance from a rehabilitation program such as  Profound Treatment located in Los Angeles, California.

Some may decide to quit fentanyl and overcome fentanyl withdrawal symptoms “cold turkey”. This means they quit using the drug entirely.  While this method can be successful,  you will most likely feel the effects of fentanyl withdrawal symptoms quickly and more severe than slowly stopping fentanyl use. We very rarely (if ever) recommend this method. 

Replacement therapy.

With this method, the user replaces fentanyl with a less powerful opioid such as Methadone or Suboxone. This method is typically used in detox centers. Once one tapers off the replacement drug, the only way to become truly “clean” is to fully end all drug use.

Many experts recommend a fentanyl detoxification process. This helps someone with an addiction gradually come off of the drug under the watchful eye of medical professionals. This method helps minimize the uncomfortable and painful fentanyl withdrawal symptoms.

Detox can be achieved in an inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation program. Programs involve around-the-clock physical and mental care to ensure the safety of all patients during this challenging time.

Fentanyl detoxification is also said to reduce the risk of relapse and end the user’s substance abuse once and for all. Detox, and most withdrawal symptoms, usually last around a week. 

During your recovery, you may battle the urge to use fentanyl many times. Take each day one at a time and you will see progress.

We can offer solutions.

Profound Treatment,Addiction rehabilitation center located in Los Angeles, California  can provide help throughout this entire process.

For more information on treating fentanyl addiction, visit our webpage or contact us at (800) 559-3496.

Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms

Those who have made the courageous decision to quit the drug Adderall will most likely find themselves battling a new demon: the Adderall withdrawal symptoms. There are ways to safely cleanse your system of the drug and have a successful recovery.

What is Adderall?

Adderall is an amphetamine/dextroamphetamine. Part of a family of prescription drugs called psychostimulants, it can cause temporary improvement in one’s mental or physical functions. It does this by affecting certain neurotransmitters in the brain. This boosts alertness, focus, and energy levels. Commonly prescribed to sufferers of ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder), narcolepsy, and chronic fatigue, Adderall is sometimes paired with other drugs to treat depression. Adderall also has a high potential for psychological dependency. This can lead to addiction.

Who is at risk for Adderall abuse?

Understanding Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms. Adderall abuse can occur even while under the supervision of a doctor, however, it has exploded in popularity as a recreational drug, especially in students.

This is because it can be used to improve academic and work performance.

In fact, a recent study by the National Survey on Drug Use found that 6.4% of college students between the ages of 18 and 22 have used Adderall recreationally. And because of the fact that it so common and easy to get, you may underestimate just how hazardous and addictive this drug can be if not properly administered. This makes it even more likely for abuse and psychological dependency.

What is Adderall Abuse?

Adderall is one of the most abused prescription drugs and abuse can come in a variety of forms. These include taking a higher dose than prescribed, taking the drug without a prescription, taking it through non-doctor approved methods (like snorting), taking the drug more frequently than prescribed, or taking the drug for reasons other than those prescribed by their doctor. Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms is one of our specialty services at Profound Treatment, Los Angeles.

The Effects of Adderall Abuse

Adderall abuse, like any amphetamine abuse, is a slippery slope that can easily turn into addiction. The more and more Adderall users take, the more likely they are to develop a tolerance towards the drug, meaning that it will require higher or more frequent doses to get the same effect.
That tolerance could then turn into dependency, where the user’s body gets so used to have the drug that it can no longer function properly without it.

Finally, Adderall users can become addicted, compulsively seeking the drug out and ignoring its risks and negative effects.

The “Crash” and Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms

In many drug users’ lives there comes a time when they decide enough is enough and they make the decision to stop the abuse once and for all. However, they should be aware of what’s to come once the drug is no longer a part of their lives.
Once a person makes the choice to quit taking Adderall, the effects can be seen in as little as a few hours. Experts often refer to this initial period as the Adderall “crash,” as your body tries to readjust to life before your amphetamine abuse. Your symptoms will be the worst and most intense during your first week of withdrawal.

You’ll start to feel better towards the end of that first week, as the most intense symptoms start to subside and you begin to function normally without needing Adderall as a crutch.

By the end of the first month, you’ll most likely start to feel more like “you” again, though it could take up to three if your tolerance was extremely high.

Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms Can Vary.

Adderall withdrawal symptoms will vary from person to person and can be dependent on a variety of criteria. For example, someone who took the drug for a longer length of time will most likely experience more severe symptoms than someone who only took it for a shorter period. The same goes for dosage frequency and amount.

Earlier we briefly touched upon the different types of Adderall available: Adderall IR and Adderall XR. Even the type of Adderall taken can play a role in how a person feels during withdrawal. It’s often thought that those who use XR may have a more difficult time quitting the drug than someone who has been taking IR.

Again, there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to Adderall withdrawal; every individual will have a different experience as they come off of the drug.

Adderall withdrawal symptoms are long and varied and it would be irresponsible to suggest that you or your loved one will experience all of them.

 Here are some of the most common Adderall Withdrawl symptoms.
  • Anger and Irritability: As the drug leaves your system, you may feel attacked and aggravated by those around you for no real reason, even up to the point of causing crying spells.
  • Anxiety and Panic Attacks: Oftentimes you may feel anxious for no reason at all when coming off this drug.
  • Increased Appetite and Weight Gain: Adderall can be an appetite suppressant and once off it, you may find yourself hungrier than normal.
  • Inability to Focus and concentrate: You may have a hard time focusing on tasks and remembering things without the drug.
  • Dizziness: Dizziness tends to occur within the first few days of withdrawal, especially if you decide to quit cold turkey.
  • Fatigue and Laziness: The most common symptoms; these occur because you are used to Adderall giving you the energy to function every day. Once the drug is taken away, your body needs time to adjust to doing tasks without it.
  • Foggy Thinking: Your thoughts may feel hazy and unclear while coming off Adderall because you are no longer relying on it to focus.
Additional Adderall Withdrawl Symptoms
  • Headaches: These are normally fairly minor and can be combatted with over-the-counter headache medication.
  • Mood Swings: Sometimes, people report extreme changes in their moods, going from great highs to extreme lows.
  • Nausea: You may feel waves of nausea and even vomit during withdrawal.
  • Vivid Dreams: Some people going through Adderall withdrawal saw changes in their dreams or had dreams that seemed especially wild and vivid.
  • Depression and Suicidal Thoughts: Dopamine (the “happy” hormone) levels tend to decrease when off Adderall, leading to feelings of depression and even thoughts of suicide. This is the most serious of all side effects; if you experience this, contact your doctor immediately.

Remember, even though you may feel hopeless during the first few weeks of recovery, these symptoms are only temporary, while the positive effects of sobriety will last a lifetime.

Ending Your Substance Abuse

Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms are treated at Profound Treatment Center Los Angeles. There are several ways you can end your Adderall abuse. Many people have found a three-step approach to be the most successful.

  • First, and most obviously, you must make the decision to quit.
  • Secondly, you can pick a plan of HOW you are going to quit the drug.
  • Finally, you must also create a maintenance plan in order to discourage any relapses.

Additional Solutions To Ending Your Substance Abuse:

Another method of quitting is tapering down your usage the drug. This can be especially effective for those whose abuse was severe because it can minimize Adderal withdrawal symptoms.

Absolutely essential to your success is to have a support system. Friends or loved ones who understand your struggle and can help you through even the most difficult times. Patients typically find outpatient treatments offered at Profound Treatment are especially helpful.

If you are a heavy user, an inpatient facility may also help you in your road to recovery. On average, these treatments can take anywhere between several weeks to several months. Profound Treatment is an excellent option.

Our patient’s daily routine is focused on recovery. This includes regular group therapy sessions. Other services at Profound Treatment Center Los Angeles is one-on-one counseling. We also offer on-site doctors who can help cope with difficult withdrawal symptoms.

If you or your loved one suffers from Adderall addiction and are finally looking to get help, Profound Treatment offers a variety of different programs to help you reach sobriety.

Maintaining Your Sobriety

Ending your Adderall abuse is only part of the journey to recovery.

Staying healthy has a big impact.  This may make you less likely to turn to Adderall. It’s also important to be aware of your triggers. Acknowledge what situations make you want to reach for the drug to be prepared to resist temptations.

Profound Treatment Center Los Angeles

Addiction treatment centers like Profound are also excellent resources because we know that treatment doesn’t end once sobriety begins. When it comes to maintaining your sobriety we can help you through every step of your journey.

Learn more about how Profound Treatment can help you or your loved one’s addiction HERE.
We can help with Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms

Synthetic Drugs Ravaging Today’s Youth

Synthetic Drugs

Synthetic Drugs Ravaging Today’s Youth. Earlier this year, many young people went to Montefiore Medical Center acting extremely violent and confused.  Many of them tested positive for drugs. The degree of violence and confusion was much higher than what the medical professionals at Montefiore could have anticipated.  After being sedated for a few days, the stories they told had a striking recurring theme.  They all had used synthetic marijuana.

The harmful effects of synthetic marijuana were responsible for over 150 people going to hospitals across New York.  100 people in Alabama were admitted to hospitals for the same reason during this same timeframe.

These were just some of the names that were used on the streets for amphetamines, barbiturates, cocaine, LSD, marijuana, MDMA, mescaline, meth-amphetamines, and PCP.   If these names mean nothing to you, you’re fortunate.  Fortunate, but not out of the woods.

In addition to these cannabinoids, depressants, hallucinogenic or psychedelic substances, opioids, opium derivatives, and stimulants, today’s youth are faced a variety of other synthetic drugs.

What Are Synthetic Drugs?

Synthetic drugs are are designed, developed and made in chemical laboratories. instead of being extracted from plants, animals or bacteria.  They are created to be at least identical in effect and properties, if not stronger, to their “traditional, naturally-based” illegal drugs.  They are also known as analogue drugs.

Synthetic drugs are labeled as “not for human consumption.” They contain dried, shredded plant material and chemical additives resulting in their mind-altering effects.  These labels have no impact on the applicability of local, state or federal laws that limit or prohibit the sale of synthetic drugs. These labels do, however, fluster enforcement efforts as law enforcement and health officials may not be able to identify the products being used as drugs, therefore creating public health problems.

What do they look like?

Products are found in small, square, packets, neatly arranged on a display rack. The packaging is attractive and colorful and describes their herbal scents and aromas. Samples can even be openly, although deceptively, demonstrated.  Moreover, synthetic drugs are sold as “herbal incense” or “potpourri” or “bath salts” or “jewelry cleaner,” at low prices in paraphernalia shops, convenience stores, smoke shops, or other legal retail outlets, and on the internet, all as legal substances, to pretty much anyone.

Are They Legal?

This is not to say that synthetic drugs are all legal.  They are not.  All 50 states have, since 2011, banned two types of synthetic drugs: cannabinoids (such as “synthetic marijuana”, “Spice” or “K2”) and cathinones (such as “bath salts”).  Laws are specific, therefore states generally targeted specific versions of these drugs with individual bans.  Producers of the drugs, in an attempt to avoid the law, simply made minor changes to the chemical composition of the banned substances to create new, but similar, drugs not previously covered by law.  In order to keep up with imaginative manufacturers, legislation in subsequent years has been more general in nature, targeting entire classes of substances or using broad language to describe the prohibited drugs.

The intent of general bans is to prevent new forms of synthetic drugs from remaining unregulated, while still allowing use for approved medical and research purposes.  In addition, many states have empowered state agencies, such as a State Board of Pharmacy or Board of Health, to utilize an expedited rule-making process to temporarily ban newly identified substances that would fall into this general category, subject to later review by the State’s legislature.

Additional legal actions

In July 2012, President Obama signed the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012 into law.  This new law makes the use, possession or distribution of certain synthetic drugs illegal.  This Act adds fifteen synthetic cannabinoids, commonly known as “Spice” and eleven synthetic cathinones, commonly referred to as “bath salts,” to Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.[1]

Another addition to the Federal Controlled Substances Act is the Federal Analogue Act,[2]  otherwise known as the Controlled Substance Analogue Enforcement Act of 1986.  This amendment bans drugs which are not classified as a controlled substance, although they are very similar to ones that are illegal.  These laws require that the analogue drug be substantially similar in chemical structure and pharmacological effects as a scheduled controlled substance.

According to the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws, 34 states have similar analogue laws, and a number of states have amended their analogue laws to specifically address emerging synthetic substances.  States have also targeted drug manufacturers and sellers through product labeling and branding laws.  Illinois is one example of a State that created criminal penalties for false advertising or misbranding “synthetic drug products.”[3] Other states have created civil penalties or are utilizing business licensing and other regulations to sanction businesses that illegally sell these substances.

What Are Their Effects?

Nobody knows for sure what the effects of any synthetic drug are.  Because manufacturers are constantly trying to stay ahead of the laws that ban or criminalize the production, marketing, sales and use of synthetic drugs, they are continuously changing the chemical make-up of these substances.  A simple tweak of the molecular compound, the illegal drug and its effects can become legal again.   “Head shops are knowingly distributing a dangerous, potentially deadly product.”[4]  With a constantly changing formulation of these drugs, it is virtually impossible to conduct any truly meaningful long-term studies of their effects.

Anecdotal information on the effects of synthetic marijuana, for example, reveals that, compared to marijuana, its adverse effects are often much more severe.

Some effects include:

  • agitation and anxiety
  • nausea
  • hallucinations
  • psychoses
  • seizures, convulsions
  • panic attacks
  • accelerated heartbeat
  • high blood pressure
  • blurred vision
  • heart attacks
  • suicidal

and other harmful thoughts or actions, and death.

In addition to the adverse effects of cocaine, LSD, and methamphetamine, synthetic versions is associated with:

  • elevated heart rate and blood pressure
  • chest pain
  • extreme paranoia
  • hallucinations
  • delusions
  • violent behavior

These side effects may cause users to harm themselves or others.

Synthetic Drugs in the Media

A recent CNN Special Report,  “Deadly High: How Synthetic Drugs Are Killing Kids,” covered the deaths of two teenagers. Christian Bjerk and Elijah Stai both died from taking the synthetic drug 25I-NBOMBe (also known as 2C-I-NBOMe).[5]

Eighteen-year-old Christian Bjerk was a popular high school football player looking forward to starting at North Dakota State College in the fall of 2012.  He had plans to join the college’s football team.  Christian was found dead lying face down on the sidewalk.  Not far from Christian’s body, the police found two disoriented teenagers.  One was naked on a bench, the other screaming at parked car.  The police suspected drugs involved.  A police investigation of the house where Christian had attended a party turned up a white powder. Consequently, police couldn’t determine what it was.

Days later, Elijah and his foster brother Justin traveled to Grand Forks from Minnesota. They went to celebrate Elijah’s upcoming 18th birthday and visit his cousin. Elijah and Justin were hanging out with their cousin’s boyfriend. According to Justin, he offered them a special treat.

Justin said that Adam told them the powder was an extract from psychedelic mushrooms. Elijah was nervous because he had never tried psychedelic mushrooms before. Soon after they consumed the bag of laced chocolate, the hallucinations began. “The trees looked like cauliflowers like dancing around,” Justin recalled. “The sidewalks were swooping up and down like a roller coaster, and the grass was shooting up to the sky.” Elijah started having a violent reaction to the drug. He was convulsing uncontrollably, foaming at the mouth and hitting his head.  When the ambulance arrived, Elijah had passed away.

The aftermath.

At the hospital, the doctor reported that Elijah was suffering from multiple organ failure and had also gone into cardiac arrest.  Elijah was brain dead. On June 15, 2012, after three days in the hospital, his family decided to disconnect his life support.

The report went on to trace how this drug wound up in North Dakota.  The investigation found the online seller.  Therefore he was prosecuted, pled guilty and sentenced to 20 years in federal prison.

What can we do?

As parents or other influencers of young people, we must be clear about the dangers of these drugs.

Therefore, a clear message for young people is to avoid putting anything in their bodies that would change their feelings or emotions. Whether it is something they smoke, drink, take in pill form or shoot with a needle. The human brain is an incredible and fragile machine.  A teenage brain requires even more care because it is a developing work in progress.  Additionally, stress that it is impossible to know what these drugs contain, who made them or what you are going to get; getting high – no matter how – carries risks of making unsafe or unhealthy decisions.

In conclusion, just because a drug is legal does not mean that it is safe; we don’t know the long-term effects of synthetic drugs because the drugs are constantly changing in order to stay “legal.”


[1] The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) is the statute prescribing federal U.S. drug policy under which the manufacture, importation, possession, use and distribution of certain substances is regulated.  The act was passed by the 91st United States Congress as Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 and signed into law by President Richard Nixon.

[2] 21 U.S.C. § 813, is a section of the United States Controlled Substances Act, passed in 1986. This allows any chemical “substantially similar” to a controlled substance listed in Schedule I or II to be treated as it is also listed in those schedules intended for human consumption.

[3] Illinois Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.  410 ILCS 620 (2012).

[4] Synthetic drugs sold using sly, deceptive marketing.  (2014, May 20).  KXAN.  Retrieved from

[5] Deadly High: How synthetic drugs are killing kids.  (2014, December 2).  CNN.  Retrieved from