Treating Legal High Drug Addictions
Some of the addictive legal highs are even more dangerous than the worst form of the illegal street drugs that we know about.
Previously Legal Drugs Now Banned
So-called “former legal highs”, are recreational drugs which were previously legally sold, without need for medical prescriptions, by specialist shops, but because they contained ingredients that produced similar effects as illicit drugs like cocaine and meths, they were later banned in most countries due to their harmful properties.
Some of these drugs actually contained illegal drugs, but the chemicals were slightly modified so they could bypass the official definition of known illegal drugs. Others were synthetic chemicals or natural plant products that mimicked the effects of illegal drugs. They were sold openly, usually under obscure brand names or as products with misleading descriptions, such as bath salts or plant food, to further disguise their intended use.
Illegal vendors are now the main source of supply for these drugs. However, shady online and street shops are still selling similar drugs, also known as New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), as new formulations are continuously being developed in ongoing efforts to evade law enforcement.
Based on the psychoactive effects of so-called “former legal high” drugs, they can be classified in three categories:
- Stimulants: Drugs that stimulate the central nervous system to temporarily provide mental alertness, physical energy and stamina, and to suppress fatigue and the need for sleep.
- Hallucinogens: Drugs that cause users to see, hear and feel imaginary things that do not exist and to falsely perceive it as reality.
- Synthetic cannabinoids: So-called “herbal blends” contaminated with harmful chemicals which mimic the properties and effects of cannabis.
Each of these drug classes have addictive or detrimental consequences for persistent users.
Examples of Former Legal Highs
There are numerous examples of these drugs. The following list contains just a few of the pseudonyms used, in order to illustrate their general functioning:
- Spice: A wide variety of herbal mixtures that mimic marijuana (cannabis). Sold under many names, they consist of dried, shredded plant material and chemical additives with mind-altering effects. Because the chemicals have a high potential for degenerative addiction and no medical benefit, and can even cause more intense side-effects than marijuana, it is now illegal to sell, buy, or possess them.
- Salvia: Made from the leaves of a plant that produces psychoactive effects when chewed, smoked or taken as a tincture. It contains opioid-like substances that cause a trance-like state, a sense of altered reality, dissociation and hallucinations. The effects appear quickly and do not last long. It is sometimes sold as a fortified or enhanced high-strength extract.
- Benzo Fury: Has similar stimulant and hallucinogenic effects as meths and ecstasy. Studies indicate that it is even more potent than meths and ecstasy. Abuse may lead to addiction and it is known to cause severe health problems. Overdosing occurs frequently and can be terminal.
- Bath Salts: A misleading descriptive term used for various recreational drugs designed to circumvent drug control laws. The term was originally used for a white, powdery, crystalline designer drug that looked like bath salts. Recent products with the same name contain different chemicals and have different effects and consequences. They include highly addictive and harmful substances.
Due to the immense diversity of these drugs and the general lack of knowledge among average people about many of the obscure elements they contain, specialised medical analysis and detoxification is required. This should be followed by personalised psychological treatment in a rehabilitation facility to identify and heal the underlying emotional stimulant that originally compelled the patient to use drugs.