Drug dealers and law enforcement agencies are involved in an arms race. On the one side, law enforcement agencies attempt to determine what drugs are dangerous for human health and attempt to enforce the laws that restrict the production and distribution. Drug dealers then tweak the chemical composition of the drugs without changing the chemical composition to deem it as illegal. They sell the tampered research chemical drugs, and law enforcement scrambles to deem these new formulations illegal.

Important Information About Research Chemicals

Although you might not be aware of what research chemicals are, we are currently experiencing a rising risk of abuse of these chemicals in the US. Research chemicals are psychoactive drugs that are discovered through the research of and experimentation on existing drugs. Existing drugs are researched and experimented with so scientists can better understand their structure, activity, general behavior, interactions and side effects. Studying existing drugs in labs can further our collective knowledge of a substance and help to save lives in the future. However, this research can modify existing drugs to yield what are commonly referred to as “designer drugs.”

Research chemicals are simple compound elements that haven’t been through extensive research by the scientists, so the effects of the research chemicals are not widely known. These research chemicals are known to push its user into empathy or a relaxation phase that keeps the person there for a longer period. Many of these research chemicals are abused on a daily basis, but tons of other people use it as a stimulant in parties or friends’ gatherings.

As these drugs are not properly researched, little scientific information is available about them on the internet. But thanks to many of the online forums and websites, that have been uploading valuable drug-related information, a lot of customers are now aware of the properties of these research chemicals.

Who Are Likely To Abuse Research Chemicals

The Internet has changed the way drugs are obtained and even abused. With the click of a few buttons, these potentially dangerous, and often legal, “research chemicals” can be sent to someone’s doorstep, which seems much safer and easier than seeking out a person peddling drugs in an alley. People are also able to browse drug forums and find new synthetic drugs to try. This may appeal greatly to a young audience.

The journal Social Work Today published that according to AAPCC, 60 percent of their synthetic drug cases involved those 25 and younger. Synthetic drugs, particularly those that act as stimulants and alter perceptions, may be popular at clubs and raves. The journal Addiction Science & Clinical Practice reported that young adults, and primarily males in their mid to late 20s, most commonly use designer drugs. Individuals who are single and with lower income levels may be most prone to designer drug abuse, although these drugs are also popular on college campuses as well.

What Do They Look Like and How Are Research Chemicals Used

The Australian Drug Foundation reports that there are about 450 types of research chemicals available to drug users, and they’re all packaged a little differently and can look a little different, too.

In general, however, research chemicals are sold as powders in formal-looking packages. Those packages rarely contain any kind of dosing information or ingredient list. Instead, the packages might say things like: “For official use only” or “Not for amateur consumption.”

Teens can purchase these drugs online, often for very low prices, and they might stash them in secret or out-of-the-way places. Toes of shoes, pockets of formal clothing, deep corners of closets, and dusky rafters of basements might all be excellent hiding places for teens with a penchant for research chemicals. In a study of 42 teens who took research chemicals published in the journal Substance Use and Misuse, researchers found that the drug use was infrequent, and that it often took place at concerts or raves. That means teens that use these drugs may not use them at home. They may just stash them and store them at home until it’s time for the next concert.

However, these drugs can cause changes that last for eight hours or longer, which means drug-using teens could still be altered when they arrive home after an event. A teen using these drugs might seem overly affectionate with parents and siblings, willing to hug and kiss others, even though that’s not something the teen might do while sober. Teens on these drugs might also have wide pupils, sweaty skin, and rigid muscles.

Getting Addicted To Research Chemicals

Any products that are smoked, snorted, swallowed, injected, or inhaled to produce mind-altering effects should be considered drugs even if they are technically legal and marketed as other products like “research chemicals.” When abused, these drugs make chemical changes in the brain relating to mood, decision-making, impulse control, and pleasure.

Some of these drugs distort the senses and cause hallucinations or psychotic side effects as well. Some of the chemical messengers, or neurotransmitters, that the brain uses to send messages throughout the body are interfered with. For example, stimulant drugs like Flakka or bath salts may increase norepinephrine levels and stimulate the central nervous system, raising heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, and body temperature, and decreasing a person’s need to sleep and desire to eat while making the person energetic, excitable, and talkative. Spice may have the opposite effect, acting as a central nervous system depressant, slowing down these functions and leaving users mellow and euphoric.

Synthetic drugs are unpredictable, however, and erratic behavior may be common as well. Suicide and self-harming behaviors, violence, aggression, and psychosis, and even heart attacks, seizures, and damage to internal organs, may be potential side effects of synthetic drug abuse, NIDA reports. The risk for overdose on a synthetic or designer drug is high as the chemicals used in their creation may be unknown and may have lethal interactions in a person’s body and brain. Many of these potential side effects are short-term; however, with prolonged and regular use, the physical and chemical changes made to the brain and body may become more ingrained.

Avoiding The Effects Of Research Chemicals

The short answer would be to avoid using the drugs in the first place, but for some, that is not an option. Unfortunately, although not much is known about these chemicals, they resemble more common drugs that possess addictive qualities. If you are using any of these drugs, the best way to avoid endangering yourself or others is to start the treatment process. The process, known as the continuum of care, will be the safest way to stay away from the dangers of drug use.

A. Detox

While many of the research chemicals may not be dangerous during withdrawal, some drugs such as diclazepam that resemble benzodiazepines will require an extensive treatment process. Due to lack of research and the ability to identify what will happen during detox, it is imperative to commit yourself to medical detoxification. The process is a three-to-seven-day stint in a facility that involves 24-hour monitoring. Clinicians will provide medications to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and be able to assist you in the event of the critical withdrawal period.

While other drugs may have less serious risks, the intake team could decide to forego this process on an outpatient basis. It is usually done a client to client basis and involves factors such as the type of drugs being used, how long the drugs have been used, and how much of the drug is used.


B. Residential Treatment

The intake team may recommend a residential treatment facility during the assessment phase if they determine your drug use has completely over-run your life. If your home environment is not able to sustain sobriety, this option will allow you to participate in therapies, and remove yourself from the stresses of the world and focus on yourself.

C. Outpatient Treatment

If the addiction to research chemicals has not spiraled entirely out of control, this will be a feasible option that allows you to remain and participate in the workforce or school. The direction will be decided at the discretion of the addiction specialists as they weigh all options. All cases are unique and will be treated as such allowing the client to experience a tailored experience.


Synthetic drugs may be thought of as being safer than other illicit drugs, but the opposite may actually be true. In truth, these drugs are often toxic, as NIDA reported 19 deaths from the synthetic hallucinogen called “N-bomb” between March 2012 and August 2013 alone. Synthetic drugs may be especially dangerous when combined with other drugs or alcohol, as the potential interactions between substances may not be fully understood and may have unintended negative consequences.

Synthetic drugs may appeal mostly to young adults and are commonly bought online. These compounds are manufactured in clandestine laboratories and often imported from other countries, like China, where the chemicals may not be regulated. In the United States, the DEA and FDA continue to try and stay ahead of the synthetic drug trade; however, drug manufacturers are able to change the chemical makeup of these drugs just enough to keep them from being controlled or regulated by authorities. As one synthetic compound is recognized and controlled or banned, several more rise to take its place.

These research chemicals are risky and as little as one dose may prove fatal. Regular abuse of synthetic drugs can lead to dependence and addiction just as other illicit drugs can. Addiction is a treatable disease. Comprehensive substance abuse treatment can lead to full recovery.