One of the newer legal highs found on the market within the UK, “Benzo fury” has been found to be potentially dangerous. This particular substance is a stimulant that also possesses hallucinogenic properties.
Dr Jolanta Poacka-Juffry, working in tandem with Dr Collin Davidson recently reported that the legal high benzo fury may be dangerous to humans, largely due to one of its main ingredients. The combination of hallicunogenic and stimulating properties on the brain is a potent mix that may put users at severe risk.
Benzo fury, also known as 5-APB, was studied on a sample of rats in a controlled environment. Cocaine and amphetamine were used as a comparison, with particular focus placed on the dopamine transporter DAT as well as serotonin receptors. Dr Opacka-Juffry confirmed these properties, stating that the mixture of the two effects is also found in some designer drugs that are currently ruled as illegal.
“This finding is significant because it demonstrates that some ‘legal highs’ may have addictive properties, which are unlikely to be well-known amongst the users of these drugs. In addition, its effects on the serotonin receptors – known as 5-HT2A receptors – would suggest that it may lead to high blood pressure by causing constriction of the blood vessels, which would make the drug more dangerous. It is possible that the reason these drugs are so popular is because they are seen as safer than their illegal counterparts. It is important to challenge these assumptions.”
The danger lies specifically in a phenomenon called reverse transport of dopamine. Any substance that causes reverse transport could potentially be damaging to the nerve cells in question.
The combination is key. While a straight hallucinogenic substance may appear extreme, it may actually be more benign, as it does not effect dopamine levels. The fact that benzo fury, or 5-APB, shares properties of amphetamines may lead users to become dependant in the search for hallucinogenic experiences.
Currently, benzo fury is incredibly popular within the UK, growing from a smaller select following. As more and more legal substances flood the market, the competition and profit is growing at an alarming and international rate. With an easy comparison standard of cocaine, for instance, new substances are quickly created and shipped off, circumventing current drug laws in many cases.
With police, customs and government struggling to stay at pace with the explosion in law dodging legal highs, it remains to be seen how policy may be altered to more comprehensively counter this increasingly popular avenue for a variety of different substances.