Synthetic Drug Addiction

The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines synthetic drugs as, “a substance chemically similar to and/or one that mimics the drug-like effects of a controlled substance…  Synthetic drugs affect the Central Nervous System and can display stimulant, depressant, and/or hallucinogenic properties.”  These drugs are dangerous because regulations are not able to keep up with the modifications chemists are able to make.

 This delayed regulation means these synthetic drugs remain easily accessible to teens and young adults.  Because these drugs are produced and altered so rapidly, there is little to no knowledge of the physical and mental effects their use may have.  While the list of synthetic drugs is much longer, two of the more popular synthetic drugs are:


Spice is a blend of herbs that has been laced with chemical compounds designed to mimic the effects of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.  The use of spice has grown at an alarming rate, a 2012 study showed that over 11% of high school seniors had reported using Spice in the past year.  As usage rates have increased so have the number of calls to poison control.  

According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, nearly 17,000 calls were received that involved the use of synthetic cannabinoids.  The effects of artificial THC are still not completely known but it has been shown that these artificial by products do have a stronger reaction on the body.  The increased potency can lead to psychotic episodes, paranoia, hallucinations and extreme anxiety.

 Poison Control Centers have reported adverse effects to Spice that include agitation, vomiting, high blood pressure, and irregular heartbeats.  Spice addiction has also been shown to reduce blood supply to the heart and has been associated with heart attacks.

Bath Salts

Bath salts are synthetic stimulants that are made to mimic the effects of cocaine, methamphetamine, and MDMA.  The number of ER visits linked to bath salts has been increasing at an alarming rate.  Between 2010 and 2013 nearly 10,000 calls were made to Poison Control regarding exposure to bath salts.

 The use of bath salts has been shown to cause chest pains, increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, agitation, hallucinations, and delusions.  Users of bath salts have also claimed to experience intense cravings leading to excessive consumption.  Synthetic stimulants have been shown to alter the brain’s production of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin.  The increased serotonin levels cause bath salts to combine the addictive properties of stimulants with the hallucinogenic properties found in drugs like LSD.


The Lakehouse Recovery Center offers 30, 60, and 90 day programs to men and women seeking to recover from drug and alcohol addiction. In addition to providing excellent clinical care, we offer both recovery and non-recovery activities. Our goal is to show clients how to have fun again, learning how to live in recovery without drugs and alcohol. For information, call us today: 877.762.3707


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