Counseling for Synthetic and Designer Drugs
Synthetic and designer drugs are newly-created versions and adaptations of illicit drugs, and even new substances, that are often manufactured by individuals in labs, or even in their home. These drugs usually are significantly stronger than their illicit counterparts causing greater, more devastating effects on the body and the widespread use of highly toxic materials in their production is a principle cause of concern.
There are three major categories including:
Synthetic cannabinoids – to mimic marijuana
Synthetic stimulants – mimics cocaine, methamphetamine, “bath salts,”
Synthetic hallucinogens – to mimics LSD
Those who are involved in the synthetic/designer drug business may give their creation their own brand name to market it, such as: K2, Spice, Vanilla Sky, White Rush, Scarface, etc. Whatever the name, these products are extremely dangerous and can result in life-threatening consequences if ingested…even once. Yes, even a single use can have a mortal price.
Another kicker related to these substances is that they are ever-changing due to what the individual manufacturing decides to put in them. The ingredients that are used can be tweaked and changed however the individual decides, which could make the substance either more or less lethal when ingested. Plus, due to the constantly growing numbers of chemicals that are developed…these manufacturers genuinely have no way of knowing exactly what their drugs contain.
The risks of engaging in the use of synthetic and designer drugs are huge because you never know what you are ingesting. With ingestion of these drugs there is a good chance that your body may be altered and you will not function as your normal self after just doing it one time or select body functions will decrease with each continued use. The crude truth is that you may not even survive at all, even after one dose. So you must ask yourself, “Is using this really going to be worth the risk of possibly losing or ruining my life, or the lives of others?” But with so much misinformation out there and a general ignorance to just how lethal these drugs area – the questions rarely get asked.
Some symptoms of using synthetic drugs may include:
Suicidal thoughts or impulses
Increased heart rate
Increased blood pressure
Heart attack or stroke
Due to synthetic and designer drugs being manufactured by individuals who change the properties of the original drug counterpart, these drugs typically will have a new, different effect on the brain and behaviors of those who ingest them. The new and different effects on the brain may make drug rehab and counseling more difficult. Each individual who receives treatment and counseling will need to have a different regimen according to how the substance they’ve chosen to ingest has affected their body. The old days of “one path to recovery” as a motto for addiction treatment is simply no longer valid. Treatment centers and professionals worth their salt know they have to adapt care to meet the ever-changing problems that arise from an ever-changing and adaptive list of drugs.
Most synthetic drugs will end up causing addiction, so once an individual starts using them they will most likely not be able to stop themselves from going back again and again, even if they do suffer terrible health damage. Even if they know the risks. When addiction reaches this high of a level, there must be some sort of intervention and rehabilitation in order for the person to have the best opportunity and most support to reclaim their life and restore sobriety. These individuals most likely will need to remain in a structured, treatment environment and work with drug addiction professionals to get them back on the right path.
With synthetic and designer drugs, expect counseling and rehabilitation to be intensive, structured and thorough in order to detoxify the body, create behavior limits, learn new skills, support knew boundaries and curb cravings/urges for the substances. Being inpatient in a facility tailored specifically to those with similar addictions can also be very helpful. However, they may have severe withdrawal symptoms and behaviors that will have to be managed with medication and any other measures that are deemed necessary at the time including restraints, seclusion, etc.
Ultimately, drug addiction is a complex and difficult disease affecting you and your loved ones. It is up to you to start making the right decisions, ask for help and find the motivation you need in order to make a better life for yourself and the ones who mean the most to you. Your road to recovery begins with you and your greatest chances of success lie in part on your willingness to accept the change.
After detox and inpatient treatment, continuing to work with a seasoned and experienced counselor who specializes in addiction recovery will only increase your chances of helping you reclaim your life. If your loved one is suffering from addiction, be supportive and let them know you care…because it may make all the difference – and get some help for yourself, now. You cannot save them from themselves, but you can learn how to help and how to heal.
Survival is not enough – life is meant for living.
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Ben Carrettin is a Nationally Board Certified Counselor (NCC), Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor (LPC-S) and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC). He is the owner of Practice Improvement Resources, LLC; a private business which offers an array of specialized counseling, evidenced-based clinical consultation, Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) and targeted ESI-based services to individuals and businesses.