New UN warnings have highlighted a global growth in the use of synthetic drugs and legal highs. These drugs are often just new formulations of methamphetamine or synesthetic versions of existing drugs like cocaine or cannabis.
This has put a strain on emergency services as they try to treat people who are using drugs they have never seen before. These new drugs have unknown side effects, and little is known about dosages or helping overdose victims. Many are far more dangerous than traditional drugs according to the UN.
This is largely because of the huge influx of such drugs over the last few years. Half way through 2012 there were 60 different synthetic cannabinoids. In one year, that number rose to 110.
The reason people are manufacturing so many of these new types of drugs has to do with the drug laws in Europe and the United States. A drug can be made illegal but if you change or tweak that formula slightly, it is considered an entirely new drug and not regulated by any existing laws.
This has created an incentive for illegal drug manufacturers to continually create new synthetic highs. By constantly changing their formulas, legal systems simply cannot keep up. Unfortunately, this has created somewhat of a health nightmare for those trying to treat people who have used legal highs.
Because synthetic drugs are not regulated by any international laws, they are freely bought and sold online which makes it very difficult to stop their sale and distribution. It can also make it harder to catch those responsible for their manufacture.
While the UK is attempting to ban more of these substances, The UN fears that users could already be receiving drugs tainted by harmful substances or mixing drugs which will make it much harder to treat those who have negative reactions.
To learn more about drug addiction, check out the Life Works Community drug addiction Knowldege Centre.