The Development Of Stronger, More Addictive Drugs
Many parents who may have experimented with relatively mild forms of drugs in their youth are learning that drugs today have become considerably more potent. The development of these newer, more powerful and addictive drugs can be attributed largely to the economics of the drug trade. The idea is simple. The stronger the drugs, the smaller the amounts and packages that have to be smuggled and the greater the profits that can be realized.
Prior to being sold and bought on the street, drugs of high purity may be broken down and mixed with other ones, or even inert powders. This is to make them go further and, therefore, increase profits. Against this backdrop, the user takes wildly fluctuating amounts of the drug, which may result in fatal overdose.
The difficulty is that while a particular drug problem may level out, another one begins. Many of the prescription drugs (examples are the narcotics, analgesics, and sedatives) have been used illicitly. Manufacturers of illicit drugs continuously look for ways to produce or modify the newer synthetic narcotics used for anesthesia in order to evade legal regulations. In fact, some of these enormously potent synthetic drugs are already being marketed and sold on the street. While therapeutic drugs are subject to strict controls, there are literally thousands of them that are not tested until evidence of their toxicity becomes apparent.
When other drugs, such as heroin, are scarce, newer mind-altering substances find their way on to the drug market. These synthetic chemicals, called designer drugs, can be lethal. Two examples are given here: “homebake” and “MDMA.” The former is a slang term for monoacethylmorphine; it is a heroin substitute made from codeine-based drugs, and is one of the most extensively used illicit opiates in New Zealand and Australia. MDMA, on the other hand, is a psychoactive amphetamine, which is more popularly known as ecstasy. This synthetic drug is known to cause coma and brain damage in some users. It was made illegal in the United States in 1985,
Other examples of potent illicit drugs are the synthetic forms of two drugs that are commonly used in surgery – pethidine and fentanyl. These synthetic drugs may be many times more powerful than heroin. The risk of overdose or irreversible brain damage posed by these substances is extremely high.
The synthetic version of fentanyl, for example, is most commonly used orally, but can likewise be smoked, inhaled for sale online or injected. It is sometimes sold on the street as heroin; hence, many fentanyl overdoses are initially reported as heroin overdoses.