Abused Drugs: Appearance, Method of Ingestion & Effects

Synthetic stimulants often referred to as “bath salts” are from the synthetic cathinone class of drugs. Synthetic cathinones are central nervous stimulants and are designed to mimic effects similar to those produced by cocaine, methamphetamine and MDMA (ecstasy). These substances are often marketed as “bath salts,” “research chemicals,” “plant food,” “glass cleaner” and labeled “not for human consumption,” in order to circumvent application of the Controlled Substance Analogue Enforcement Act.

Common Street Names

Bliss, Blue Silk, Cloud Nine, Drone, Energy-1, Ivory Wave, Lunar Wave, Meow Meow, Ocean Burst, Pure Ivory, Purple Wave, Red Dove, Snow Leopard, Stardust, Vanilla Sky, White Dove, White Knight, White Lightning

Appearance

Websites have listed products containing these synthetic stimulants as “plant food” or “bath salts,” however, the powdered form is also compressed in gelatin capsules.

Method of Ingestion

“Bath salts” are usually ingested by sniffing/snorting. They can also be taken orally, smoked, or put into a solution and injected into veins.

Effect on the Mind

These synthetic substances are abused for their desired effects, such as euphoria and alertness. Other effects that have been reported from the use of these drugs include psychological effects such as confusion, acute psychosis, agitation, combativeness, aggressive, violent and self-destructive behavior.

Effect on the Body

Adverse or toxic effects associated with the abuse of cathinones, including synthetic cathinones, include rapid heartbeat; hypertension; hyperthermia; prolonged dilation of the pupil of the eye; breakdown of muscle fibers that leads to release of muscle fiber contents into bloodstream; teeth grinding; sweating; headaches; palpitations; seizures; as well as paranoia, hallucinations, and delusions.

Cocaine is an intense, euphoria-producing stimulant drug with strong addictive potential.

Common Street Names

Coca, Coke, Crack, Flake, Snow, and Soda Cot

Appearance

Cocaine is usually distributed as a white, crystalline powder. In contrast, cocaine base (crack) looks like small, irregularly shaped chunks (or “rocks”) of a whitish solid.

Method of Ingestion

Powdered cocaine can be snorted or injected into the veins after dissolving in water. Cocaine base (crack) is smoked, either alone or on marijuana or tobacco. Cocaine is also abused in combination with an opiate, like heroin, a practice known as “speedballing.” Although injecting into veins or muscles, snorting, and smoking are the common ways of using cocaine, all mucous membranes readily absorb cocaine.

Effect on the Mind

The intensity of cocaine’s euphoric effects depends on how quickly the drug reaches the brain, which depends on the dose and method of abuse. Following smoking or intravenous injection, cocaine reaches the brain in seconds, with a rapid buildup in levels. This results in a rapid-onset, intense euphoric effect known as a “rush.”

By contrast, the euphoria caused by snorting cocaine is less intense and does not happen as quickly due to the slower build-up of the drug in the brain. Other effects include increased alertness and excitation, as well as restlessness, irritability, and anxiety.

Effect on the Body

Tolerance to cocaine’s effects develops rapidly, causing users to take higher and higher doses. Taking high doses of cocaine or prolonged use, such as binging, usually causes paranoia. The crash that follows euphoria is characterized by mental and physical exhaustion, sleep, and depression lasting several days. Following the crash, users experience a craving to use cocaine again.

MDMA acts as both a stimulant and psychedelic, producing an energizing effect, distortions in time and perception, and enhanced enjoyment of tactile experiences. Adolescents and young adults use it to reduce inhibitions and to promote: Euphoria, feelings of closeness, empathy, and sexuality.

Common Street Names

Adam, Beans, Clarity, Disco Biscuit, E, Ecstasy, Eve, Go, Hug Drug, Lover’s Speed, MDMA, Peace, STP, X, and XTC

Appearance

MDMA is mainly distributed in tablet form. MDMA tablets are sold with logos, creating brand names for users to seek out. MDMA is also distributed in capsules, powder, and liquid forms.

Method of Ingestion

MDMA use mainly involves swallowing tablets (50-150 mg), which are sometimes crushed and snorted, occasionally smoked but rarely injected. MDMA is also available as a powder.

Effect on the Mind

Clinical studies suggest that MDMA may increase the risk of long-term, perhaps permanent, problems with memory and learning. MDMA causes changes in perception, including euphoria and increased sensitivity to touch, energy, sensual and sexual arousal, need to be touched, and need for stimulation. Some unwanted psychological effects include: Confusion, anxiety, depression, paranoia, sleep problems, and drug craving. All these effects usually occur within 30 to 45 minutes of swallowing the drug and usually last 4 to 6 hours, but they may occur or last weeks after ingestion.

Effect on the Body

Users of MDMA experience many of the same effects and face many of the same risks as users of other stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamines. These include increased motor activity, alertness, heart rate, and blood pressure.

Overdose Effects

In high doses, MDMA can interfere with the body’s ability to regulate temperature. On occasions, this can lead to a sharp increase in body temperature (hyperthermia), resulting in liver, kidney, and cardiovascular system failure, and death. Because MDMA can interfere with its own metabolism (that is, its break down within the body), potentially harmful levels can be reached by repeated drug use within short intervals.

Heroin is a highly addictive drug and the most rapidly acting of the opiates.

Common Street Names

Big H, Black Tar, Chiva, Hell Dust, Horse, Negra, Smack, and Thunder.

Appearance

Heroin is typically sold as a white or brownish powder, or as the black sticky substance known on the streets as “black tar heroin.”

Method of Ingestion

Heroin can be injected, smoked, or sniffed/snorted. High purity heroin is usually snorted or smoked.

Effect on the Mind

Because it enters the brain so rapidly, heroin is particularly addictive, both psychologically and physically. Heroin abusers report feeling a surge of euphoria or “rush,” followed by a twilight state of sleep and wakefulness.

Effect on the Body

Drowsiness, respiratory depression, constricted pupils, nausea, a warm flushing of the skin, dry mouth, and heavy extremities. Effects of a heroin overdose are: Slow and shallow breathing, blue lips and fingernails, clammy skin, convulsions, coma, and possible death.

Marijuana is a mind-altering (psychoactive) drug, produced by the Cannabis sat