On their search for new drugs and innovative forms of consumption, the users never find themselves – but sometimes death. The target: State of intoxication. Set and setting play a significant role, especially when it comes to new drugs. Everything that makes you dizzy is interpreted as intoxication; every change of emotions sets free endorphins because the consumer gets rewarded with a new feeling. But the “new drugs” are not really that new. Often it’s proven chemical or biological substances once again “in” in the scene. And new forms of consumption make some of the oldies shine once again.
“Tina is so kinky, she’ll make you go insane and jumble your sex hormones. And Tina is cheap, she won’t cost you more than a ticket to the movie theater“ – that’s how effectively Tina is being marketed. But Tina is not an IT girl but a “new” drug currently stirring up the US scene. “Tina” is not new, just ‘old wine in new bottles’. “Crystal Meth – the most dangerous drug in the world” – this was the headline in the German news magazine STERN in March 2006. The magazine vividly warned about the “monster drug” with impressive pictures and reports of people affected. Journalistic claptrap? No! Meth is the same substance as “Tina“: Methamphetamine.
In 1919, the first methamphetamine was manufactured in Japan. In the thirties, amphetamine replaced cocaine as a stimulant. The methamphetamine containing Pervitin® became sadly famous during world war two as a “wake up-“ and stimulant substance for pilots, paratroopers and tank drivers. Crystal has many other colloquial names: Meth, Chalk, Bambinos, Dixies, Diamonts, Mao, Mollies, Jugs, Ups, Ice, Glass or Crank. A cold medicine containing ephedrine you can buy over the counter, iodine and phosphorus – you don’t need a lot more to produce the drug.
Smoke, swallow, snuff, shoot
Meth you can smoke in a glass pipe, you can take it orally, snuff it or inject it. The period of effectiveness depending on the dose varies from 6 to 70 (!) hours. When taking it by inhalation the crystals are heated on aluminum foil or in a glass pipe, the fumes set free are inhaled. If the drug is being snuffed, the crystals are pulverized. Quite often, tiny glass splinters are added to this powder causing cuts in the nasal mucosa. Thus the substance is absorbed faster in the blood. To make a long story short: Meth makes you awake and slim.
Other effects are:
- Feeling of strength, euphoria
- Increased urge to talk (logorrhoea)
- Psychic stimulating effect
- Mood enhancement
- Loss of sensation of pain
- Increased motor activity and enhanced motivation
If Tina plays with the synapses
Methamphetamine belongs to the group of indirectly working sympathomimetic drugs. It leads to a release of noradrenalin from its reservoirs and inhibits its reuptake into the pre-synaptic membrane. Thus the consumer is awake, aggressive and does not feel any hunger. In the dopaminergic system, methamphetamine releases dopamine from its reservoirs. Once it is set free, the consumer feels “satisfied” for actions worth a reward such as social behavior, eating and reproduction activities. Meth consumption can lead to many symptoms and side effects. Really scary is the rapid physical dilapidation of the consumers. They seem to age for years within a few months. The eyes sink in, the skin “wears out”, teeth fall out, they become manic and emaciate extremely. The name “horror drugs” seems to be appropriate. Meth damages the cardiovascular system and the nervous system.
Space instead of spice
SPICE is sold in small silvery or gold shining sachets as an incense smoking mixture and room fragrance. In express mode, it recently was put under the narcotics act and thus the production, distribution and owning is prohibited. In addition to a number of unknown herbs, a synthetic material named JWH-018 has been identified. THC, the active ingredient of hashish, is a so-called CB2-antagonist. The affinity of JWH-018 to the CB2-receptor is higher than the one of THC. The “newcomer” is supposed to be four times stronger than THC. After the prohibition, now so-called “incense smoking mixtures” are being sold named SPACE – supposedly just harmless herbs, currently still legal. Even through Amazon you can order the sachets. In order to remain able to deliver, the dealers are trying to get new substances to the starting line. Basis is legal herbs and illegal substances out of the arsenal of pharmaceutical chemistry. Products researched as medications, but never made it to approval. Since those are not classified as narcotics by the authorities, they are legal. The innovations are named “herbal highs”. They are sold as “Bonzai Citrus”, Herbal Essences” or “Forrest Green”. Some of them are declared being bath salts; one sachet for 30 EUR or more. “Charge Plus”, the “king” of bath salts costs just about 9.50 EUR, but it contains only 0.2 g. Most of the time they contain cannabinoides, also the substance mephedrone was found. In the scene it’s called “Meow” and works like cocaine. Drug tests of the authorities do not show these new substances.
Pimp by Joint
After alcohol, Cannabis is the drug most frequently involved in car accidents. The “Honey Bee-Extractor” is offered in Coffee Shops or in the internet. “It can’t get any easier: Get your own oil within one hour with the Honey Bee-Extractor. No smells, no cleaning orgies, works without heat source“- thus the advertising of a distribution company. With a simple gas extraction you can increase the content in the cannabis material up to 80% (!). The result is a honey-like resin (Honeybee), its effectiveness coming close to cannabis oil. Effect, intoxication experience and the dangers are like with common cannabis products.
DXM – cough medicine makes you high
The abuse of the cough suppressant Dextromethorphane (DXM), a drug you can buy over the counter, has increased. The Swiss Poisons Center as well as the Chamber of Pharmacists in Schleswig-Holstein/Germany warns about abuse. And also the Bundesvereinigung der Apothekerverbände (ABDA) (national association of pharmacists in Germany) warns: “Pharmacists have been informed accordingly and will keep an eye especially on young people regarding potential abuse when selling OTC drugs”. The Arzneimittelkommission der Deutschen Apotheker (AMK) (drug commission of German pharmacists) also recommends not to sell larger quantities of these drugs.
The dose is highly variable
Even Rosa von Praunheim took DXM back in the Sixties as “Romilar”-pills. They contained dextromethorphane hydrobromide as a mono-substance. The “abuse” led to the drug being taken off the market. Some Smart-Shops in the Netherlands sell the pure substance in psychoactive doses as “Robo”. The intoxication and the quantity necessary for an overdose are both highly variable. One reason could be the genetic factors. About every tenth person suffers from a genetic defect, the so-called CYP2D6 polymorphism. The results of this frequent defect are that certain substances, among others also DXM, are excreted significantly slower and thus work stronger.
Dextromethorphane attacks in the center of coughing in the medulla oblongata and thus centrally suppresses the urge to cough. Despite the similarity to opiates it would be wrong to sort in DMX with sedatives together with morphine and heroin. Most likely you can compare the effect with laughing gas and ketamine. This makes DMX a hallucinogen. The effect shows shortly after taking the capsules or the juice orally. The intoxication lasts up to six hours. Once overdosed during abuse, it might lead to somnolence, confusedness, with higher doses even cramps and coma, 10 – 20 mg/kg bodyweight (depending on the literature source) can lead to deadly intoxication. Interactions between DXM and alcohol or other centrally effective medications are particularly dangerous. And it is very, very simple to inhibit the degradation of DXM and thus increase the effect dramatically: With grapefruit juice.
Quiet intestine, intoxicated brain
Loperamid is a proven and efficient remedy against diarrhea. It occupies the opiate receptors in the intestines, paralyzes briefly the intestinal muscles and regulates the disturbed liquid balance in the intestines. This medication is available OTC without a prescription. Loperamid is extremely liposoluble and does not cross the blood-brain-border. And those amounts getting into the brain are channeled back outside quickly by a transportation protein. Thus it cannot reach the central opiate connection spots. The typical (side) effects of opiates like euphoria, pain relief, nausea, triggering of addiction and others are not being observed. This mechanism inhibiting that Loperamid gets into the central nervous system and transporting it back outside again, easily can be stopped. Some pharmaceuticals and certain forms of consuming cause Loperamid to accumulate in the brain and trigger a “kick”.
Abuse – propagandized and public knowledge
“There is a strong suspicion that the antidiarrheal medication Loperamid can be “changed” easily with a simple pharmacological trick into a centrally effective opioids”, explains the pharmacists and lecturer at the Marburg University, Dr. Alexander Ravati, in the Pharmazeutische Zeitung (pharmaceutical newspaper). “Alarming reports about considerable abuse in the drug scene accumulated over the past months”, says Ravati.
There are different ways to channel Loperamid into the brain:
- Smoke Loperamid-platelets in self-rolled cigarettes
- Combination with the cardiac stimulant Verapamil
- Combination with Chinin (drug against cramps in the calf)
- Combination with Chinidin (drug against cardiac arrhythmia)
- Combination with the anti-fungal drug Ketoconazol
- Combination with the AIDS-drug Ritonavir
- Combination with the antidepressant Doxepin
This contribution to the topic is not to be understood as a recommendation for abuse, on the contrary it is to warn about the health risks.
- Verapamil is a drug available only on prescription against cardiac arrhythmia. It on its own can get the heart that much out of rhythm that it can lead to a cardiac arrest.
- Chinin can cause uterine contractions, damage blood counts and cause allergies. A massive overdose causes vertigo, headache, tinnitus, deafness, temporary blindness and cardiac paralysis.
- The fungicide Ketoconazol can lower the testosterone- and cortisone level.
- Doxepin can increase the heart rate, cause speech disorders, impotence, damaged blood counts and psychological disorders.
Poisonous solanaceae – plants giving you wings
Solanaceae like jimson weed (thorn-apple), henbane and mandrake are very popular with young people as well. Those natural drugs are easy to access and are not prohibited by the narcotics act. The number of poisoning incidents with angel’s trumpet (datura suaveolens) dramatically increased lately. The plant with the impressive blossom has conquered a firm place in parks and gardens. The owners have no idea about their “side-job” as a dealer – most of the time.
Flying into tachycardia
Most of the time, it is whole groups or classes at school wanting to try plants with hallucinogenic tropane alkaloids just out of curiosity and to “get wings”. The alkaloids atropine and scopolamine give the consumer the feeling that they can fly. Quite frequently the attempt ends with broken bones or even more severe injuries. In most cases, the plant drug is consumed prepared like a tea. When consuming the fresh plant, the original ingredients are effective. If you dry the drug, L-hyoscyamine changes into racemic atropine.
The three ingredients complement each other regarding effectiveness. Atropine works stimulating on the central nervous system which shows in a general excitement with agitation and an increased heart rate in addition to enlargement of the pupils and reduced saliva secretion. Scopolamine also works as a parasympatholytic, compared to atropine though more sedative and dulling. It causes a state of lack of will and apathy similar to hypnosis. In the past it was used as a truth drug. L-hyoscyamine is the third ingredient in this alkaloid trilogy. It is named after henbane (hyoscyamus niger), but is found in most of the solanaceae family members. If you dry the plant it turns into atropine. The effectiveness of hyoscyamine is significantly stronger than atropine which explains why the dried drug works less effectively than the fresh one. If taken in doses of more than 1 mg, it causes hallucinations connected to a loss of feeling for reality. In his state of intoxication the consumer is not clear, the dulling active components predominate. The intoxicated person falls asleep similar to a delirium and has hardly any memories about the experiences made during intoxication.
Rapid pulse and dilated pupils
Poisoning with members of the solanaceae family show in the following symptoms:
- Hot skin
- Maximum dilated pupils (mydriasis)
- Spatial and time disorientation
- Fears and mood swings
- Visual disorders / irritation of the conjunctiva
- Rise of blood pressure and heart rate
- Secondary danger in traffic
Since the acetylcholine receptor is located in a lot of organs and organ systems, there are plenty of other symptoms summed up in the term “anticholinergic syndrome”.
The gardener is wide-eyed
Not just oral consumption might cause complications. The tub plant might turn into a threat for garden lovers as well. Contact between the eye and parts of the angel’s trumpet can cause distinct visual disorders, dilated pupils, light sensitivity, coordination disorders, vertigo and double vision.
It will be interesting to see which new drugs and forms of consumption will penetrate the market. Alcohol for inhaling? Toads to lick? Benzodiazepine for sniffing up the nose? We already have all that! Wouldn’t it be great if it was enough for the consumer to get his intoxication in 3D on a DVD? Reasonable priced and free of risks.