Designer Drugs

Recently, the abuse of clandestinely synthesized drugs has re-emerged as a major worldwide problem. These drugs are illicitly produced with the intent of developing substances that differ slightly from controlled substances in their chemical structure while retaining their pharmacological effects. These substances are commonly known as designer drugs and fall under several drug categories. The following section describes these drugs of concern and their associated risks.


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. Marketing in this manner attempts to hide the true reason for the products’ existence—the distribution of a psychoactive/stimulant substance for abuse.


Synthetic cathinones are manufactured in East Asia and have been distributed at wholesale levels throughout Europe, North America, Australia, and other parts of the world. What are common street