designer drug

(redirected from Designer drugs)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical.

designer drug,

chemical substance synthesized in a laboratory that is intended to have effects similar to those of a drug that is a controlled substance, such as methamphetamine, marijuana, LSD, or an anabolic steroid, but not be illegal or detectable by drug tests as a result of differences in its chemical composition. Designer drugs are typically produced by chemical laboratories that intentionally modify the molecular structure of known controlled substances in order to circumvent the law, but producers of such drugs also search through the scientific literature to identify reports of potentially useful compounds. Other designer drugs are not chemically similar to a controlled substance but nonetheless produce similar effects. Designer drugs are typically produced by trained chemists in professional-quality laboratory and manufacturing facilities, are usually transported using major international delivery services, and may be sold via a website, in legal establishments under variety of names, or illicitly. Such drugs are often more dangerous than the controlled substances they are intended to replace; creators of such drugs may modify the molecular structure of the compounds they produce in order to increase the potency and addictiveness of the resulting drug. Because toxicology tests are not designed to recognize an unknown substance that has chemical differences from controlled substances, it can be difficult to identify a drug and appropriately treat a patient for an overdose. Designer drugs are often misleadingly identified and packaged as research chemicals, bath salts, or plant food, and specifically labeled as not for human consumption, in an attempt to circumvent drug laws.

Although a number of synthetic drugs with psychoactive properties similar to controlled substances were produced earlier in the 20th cent., designer drugs became significantly more common in the 1980s. Early designer drugs were based on PCP, fentanyl, meperidine, and amphetamine and methamphetamine. MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine), also known as ecstacy or molly, which has properties similar amphetamine and mescaline, was a designer drug that became prominent in the 1980s, though its synthesis occurred earlier and clandestine production of the drug began in the 1970s.

In more recent years, many designer drugs have been synthetic cannabinoids, cathinones, and hallucinogens. Cannabinoids mimic the effects of THC, the main psychoactive component of marijuanamarijuana
or marihuana,
drug obtained from the flowering tops, stems, and leaves of the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa (see hemp) or C. indica; the latter species can withstand colder climates.
..... Click the link for more information.
 and other forms of cannabis, and have been sold as spice, incense, potpourri, K2, and under other names. Cannabinoids are typically sold added to a dried herb to create "synthetic marijuana," which can be smoked, or as a liquid for use in an e-cigarette. Cathinone is found in khat (see staff treestaff tree,
common name for some temperate members of the Celastraceae, a family of trees and shrubs (many of them climbing forms), widely distributed except in polar regions.
..... Click the link for more information.
), and synthetic cathinones, such as MDPV, mephedrone, methylone, and alpha-PVP, have effects that are similar to those of cocaine or methamphetamine. They have been sold as bath salts, plant food, and under other names. NBOMes, substances that are chemically similar to mescaline (the active ingredient in peyotepeyote
, spineless cactus (Lophophora williamsii), ingested by indigenous people in Mexico and the United States to produce visions. The plant is native to the SW United States, particularly S Texas, and Mexico, where it grows in dry soil.
..... Click the link for more information.
), have been sold as N-Bomb, LSD (which is much less potent), and under other names.

In an attempt to ban unknown compounds that are similar to controlled substances in their effects and might otherwise be sold as legal alternatives to controlled substances, the United States enacted the Controlled Substances Analogue Enforcement Act in 1986. Under the law, it is illegal to manufacture and sell a substance if it is substantially chemically similar to an existing controlled substance and if its effects in a user are similar to or intended to be similar to that controlled substance. The law, which has been criticized as unconstitutionally vague, has not stemmed the development of designer drugs. Producers of designer drugs, who are often overseas in China, India, and Pakistan, can reformulate a chemical before it has been declared illegal, allowing their production facilities to switch to a new chemical formulation as soon as the earlier formulation is outlawed.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
A new designer drug known only as 'Green Amore' in capsule form was found during the arrest of Joshua Habalo, who allegedly sold it at the CloseUp Forever Summer concert in 2016 at the Mall of Asia concert grounds where five people died.
D.) After peer assessing, have students work in pairs to addressing the following: If a friend or loved one was thinking about using designer drugs and had a negative perception of one or more of the constructs in the TPB model, would might be done to improve the construct toward a positive perception?
In October 2011, components of designer drugs, including synthetic cannabinoids and the major constituents of bath salts, were categorized as emergency Schedule I substances.
To improve such testing, Marilyn Huestis, a forensic toxicologist at NIDA, wants to identify the breakdown products of spice and other designer drugs. "The problem is that we're always behind the manufacturers," she says.
The majority of these designer drugs are derived from the parent compound cathinone, the active ingredient of the plant khat (Catha edulis).
Schwartz has been involved in the public health investigation of two Spice outbreaks and numerous cases of toxicity associated with Spice use since the designer drug epidemic began in 2009-2010.
Beyond THC: the new generation of cannabinoid designer drugs. Front Behav Neurosci 2011; 5:60.
This road trip suddenly takes a turn for the worse when Carol's boyfriend begins using a designer drug known as Bath Salts.
Among the topics are false-positive drugs of abuse test results due to the use of prescription and non-prescription drugs, when a toxicology report is negative in a suspected overdosed patient: the world of designer drugs, limitations of blood alcohol measurements using automated analyzers and breath analyzers, plant poisoning and the clinical laboratory, interference in immunoassays used to monitor trycyclic antidepressants, and the effect of drug-herb interactions on therapeutic drug monitoring.
Earlier in July, President Barack Obama signed into law the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act, permanently placing 26 of the substances used in designer drugs into schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse is seeking new ways to detect use of so-called "designer drugs" such as K2 / Spice and Bath Salts based on their effects on the human body.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse is seeking new ways to detect use of so-called designer drugs such as K2, Spice, and Bath Salts, based on their effects on the human body.