The Dangers of Designer Drugs

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “drug” is any substance introduced into the body that produces an alteration in the normal functioning of the nervous system and is likely to create dependence, whether psychological or physical.

Among drugs, there is the typology of synthetic drugs. They are a group of psychostimulant substances that are mostly derived from amphetamines. Their appearance is that of colored tablets. In general, they avoid being referred to as synthetic or laboratory drugs in order to give a better image; therefore, they are called “designer drugs”.

In the 1960s, the history of synthetic drugs began with the recovery of MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine). MDMA was originally discovered in 1912 by a German pharmaceutical company. It was never marketed, as side effects were observed at the neuronal level and in the serotonergic circuits. When it recovered, it began to be used as a psychoactive drug and, ten years later, the first studies on the adverse effects were carried out.

The boom of this type of drug emerged in Ibiza in the 90’s in the well known “Ruta del Bacalao”. Since then it has been associated with the party scene and, specifically, with electronic music.

The starting age of consumption in Spain among young people is between 14 and 15 years old. One of the main problems is the low market price, it is not necessary a great amount of money to be able to access them. In the same way, there are no drug controls in adolescents except in the case of those of legal age, since the DGT makes anti-drug campaigns to drivers.

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This association of synthetic drugs with music and the recreational world grows especially in summer. With the arrival of festivals, young people find the temptation and the opportunity to try these substances for the first time. The problem lies in the myths and false beliefs about these drugs, which tend to be presented as an attractive and easy to consume substance.

Little attention is paid to the harm they cause and the danger they pose to public health. One of the great dangers of designer drugs is the widespread belief that their use produces happiness and that they are harmless. These are false claims that can have serious physical and psychological consequences.

The moment they are experienced, there is an effect of self-confidence, alertness, increased stamina, improved physical performance and increased happiness. This is causing that they are not only consumed in discotheques but also at the time of having sex.

The ITA Mental Health Center – Psychologist Ignacio Benito collaborates with this article.