In the last few years, we have seen the rise of research chemical usage which is also known as synthetic drugs or legal highs. These kinds of drugs are fabricated versions of dangerous drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and other opioid drugs. However, research chemicals are engineered and developed to avoid classifying it as controlled substances or illegal drugs. Research chemicals still carry high risks because of how they are made, labeled and used. Compared to the drugs that they are intended to resemble, research chemicals can cause serious psychological sickness when abused.

Research chemicals are compounds that are created inside laboratories instead of it being extricated from natural resources such as plants. Research chemicals refer to drugs that have been only tested in small animals or in test tubes. They need more research to be able to determine what their effects in the human body are. In most cases, they are developed to act like common drugs. However, making them costs less and in turn, can be sold at a cheap price to the public. They are also likely to have a more extensive effect on our bodies. The consolidation of cheap cost and strength made these drugs outrageously famous. The manufacturers and distributors of synthetic drugs work extensively to prevent these items from being labeled as illegal. Thus, they often use solutions that are designed for other uses including scientific research.

One common sign of a synthetic drug or research chemical is its labeling. Most carry the label “not for human consumption” or “for research use only” even though they are developed particularly as psychedelic substances and are intended to be consumed. This false advertising is intended to care for the appearance of these designer drugs as legal narcotics which are being abused instead of the medication they were meant to be. According to experts, it is even more concerning that, due to these drugs being falsely advertised, the ingredients in making them are not needed to be listed or controlled in any kind of way. This is the reason why there is no method to exactly know what kind of chemicals are combined in the medicines. In consequence to this, and because the ingredients are consistently being altered to avoid being caught by the law, people who regularly ingest these medications can be getting various combinations thus, raising the risk of contamination or other harmful reactions to medicine.

Types of Research Chemicals

One of the downsides of research chemicals is that the compositions of the drugs continuously change which makes it hard to be updated with the chemicals they contain and how it will affect the body. However, synthetic drugs usually fall into specific groups that are identical to common medicines. This resemblance is usually a part of research chemical design such as synthetic cannabinoids being compared to medical marijuana because of its similar effects on the human body.

Bath Salts

Bath salts, scientifically named as synthetic cathinones, are a type of synthetic drug created to imitate the effect of a drug derived from the African khat plant. The drug’s effect on the body is the same to the response brought by cocaine and other amphetamines. Bath salts have become popular in the past years because of news about the effects of the drug on humans who take them such as hallucinations, increased libido and boost in sociability. The worst effect of taking bath salts is becoming agitated which leads to attacking other people. It can also cause severe dehydration and the breakdown of muscle tissues.

K2 And Spice

A recent study states that in 2015 alone, poison management centers catered to more than 7,500 reports of exposure to K2 and spice. Otherwise known as synthetic cannabinoids, these research chemicals are like THC, the active component of marijuana. The chemicals are usually sprayed on herbal blends which are intended to be smoked and are commonly labeled as incense. On other times, these are included in the production of certain teas.

While the hallucinatory drug is analogous to marijuana, the synthetization can cause a more extreme backlash. Reports say that these kinds of drugs attach stronger on brain receptors that are susceptible to cannabinoids. The body also retains them longer than marijuana which means the hallucinatory effect last longer too. Some symptoms of synthetic cannabinoids are increased blood pressure, escalating heart rates, nausea which usually leads to vomiting.

Molly, MDMA and Ecstasy

Ecstasy became famous in the ‘90s because of its power to develop a state of bliss. At present, the drug called Molly has gained fame due to the same reason. Both Molly and ecstasy have the same main ingredient called MDMA. MDMA is a synthetic drug which is similar to hallucinogens and amphetamines. Most people usually assume that they are getting a refined type of MDMA when taking Molly but this is not true. A serious risk with this kind of research chemical is the way it is mixed with other medicines. Methamphetamine, caffeine and other psychedelics have been discovered in Molly tablets. These mixtures are extremely harmful because it can cause increased heart rates, paranoia and anxiety. These drugs are considered psychoactive drugs and cause people to hallucinate and experience strange body sensations.

Fentanyl And Synthetic Opiates

Synthetic opiates including fentanyl were initially developed as prescription drugs to eliminate pain. Other types of synthetic opiates             have been prescribed to people who have opioid and heroin addictions. According to researchers, fentanyl has been used as a designer drug that is used to spike cocaine and heroin to increase its potency. Today, fentanyl has been redesigned to work like its analogs in order to avoid legality issues.

Controlling Designer Drugs

The most considerable challenge in controlling designer drugs or research chemicals is the inadequacy to get a legal hold on them. This is because of the following reasons:

Change In Formulation

Once a variant of a research chemical comes to the knowledge of the authorities, creators of the drugs alter its formula. Using a different formula means the result is technically a different drug, so it is not considered as illegal anymore.

Misleading Packaging

Synthetic cannabinoids are advertised as incense which is not for human consumption. Bath salts are called by this name to entail that these substances are not intended for human consumption even though they are. Synthetic drugs being named as research chemicals are marked as “for research usage only”. In addition to changing its formulation, false advertising is utilized to keep these drugs from being noticed by the authorities.

Sourced Chemicals

By buying chemicals that are meant particularly for research, wholesalers are technically not selling illegal drugs due to the fact that it is legal for its predetermined function. Authorities are always trying to identify ways to suppress the illegal utilization of these chemicals without prohibiting them outright.

Different governments are starting to implement laws against these research chemicals as well as similar analogs that emerge in order to mislead these problems.

Risks of Designer Drugs

The lack of capability to manage and handle these drugs means there’s still various risks in using these substances. A study in 2011 stated that the number of patients rushed to the emergency rooms increased due to designer drug usage. It has risen to a staggering 28,000 compared to just 11,000 the previous year. The reason behind this is that there has also been an increase in the usage of synthetic cannabinoids in young adults believing that it is safer than marijuana and it is way cheaper. Labels on these drugs indicate the words “natural and organic” which contributed to this perception.

The lack of guidance in the making of these substances means it is difficult to know the exact ingredients of the drug and how strong the drug is which will result in drug overdose. Additionally, altering the formulas means lesser knowledge of what the product is composed of. Even if a person has used it without experiencing side effects, the new formula may cause unanticipated complications because of the new experimental ingredients. To put this simply, designer drugs or research chemicals that have no definite research to back them up, that are still being studied and used for various purposes can have a dangerous effect in the human body and brain in unknown ways. These effects can lead to serious reactions, trauma and even death.


While many popular intoxicating substances such as marijuana, alcohol and heroin are misused all over the world and cause countless over dosage and lifelong health problems each year, newer synthetic versions of these substances are being distributed without intensive research and testing. Designer drugs that mimic opioids, hallucinogens and cannabinoids are extremely hazardous because their effects are unknown.

These substances can be physically dangerous, its effects can last a long time, can lead to permanent insanity, can damage internal organs and can even cause death. Until now, there are now safe ways to gauge the dose in taking synthetic drugs. If you know a person abusing these drugs, they need to seek the help of a professional immediately.