Not for Human Consumption: New Drugs of Abuse and Their Detection

Author: Abigail T. Brooks

Designer drugs are structurally related to illegal psychoactive drugs and include cathinones (bath salts and flakka), synthetic cannabinoids (K2), piperazines (Molly), salvia, kratom, and desomorphine (krokodil). Often designer drugs are readily available on the Internet or in head shops and skirt regulation through the development of novel analogs and labeling the products "not for human consumption." These novel psychoactive substances are consumed typically by younger males via various routes and modes for their desirable effects; however, undesirable and even life-threatening reactions or death may occur. Additionally, designer drugs are often coingested with other psychoactive substances and may be metabolized through cytochrome P450 pathways leading to drug-drug interactions furthering the potential for harm. Management is normally with supportive measures and symptomatic care. Unfortunately, most of these agents are challenging to detect as they are not readily identified by immunoassay urine drug testing, though some may lead to false positives. More advanced testing with liquid or gas chromatography/mass spectroscopy is able to detect designer drugs but is limited due to its availability, cost, delay in results, and the ever-changing designer drug structures. (Recorded at PAINWeek 2016)

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