Designer Drugs

These drugs act as psychedelic stimulants and hallucinogens and are extremely potent. They should only be used in very small quantities. They are sold as powder, pellets or tablets and are extremely pure, thus one dose may result in overdose. Users may inadvertently consume too much resulting in over-stimulation of the heart (and thus heart attacks), paranoia, acute anxiety, sweating, psychotic episodes, memory loss, confusion, and seizures. Mixing these drugs with alcohol can be very dangerous. 

These "research chemicals", also called "designer drugs", may be categorized by their chemical structure  into at least 3 groups: piperazines, tryptamines and phenethylamines (cathinones). The phenethylamines are sold as "Bath Salts" and are discussed in the section on "Bath Salts". 




Piperazines are synthetic and not present in nature. The most popular one is benzylpiperazine known as A-2, BZP, Frenzy, or Nemesis on the street. BZP has become an alternative to methamphetamine and Ecstasy. It is a central nervous system stimulant similar to the amphetamines. The effects of taking BZP include dilated pupils, increase blood pressure and heart rate, anxiety, blurred vision, and dizziness. Some chronic users reporting effects that include irregular heartbeat, delusions, hallucinations, and paranoia. The high can last 6-8 hours and is similar to the high from Ecstasy.



Dimethyltryptamine, DMT, known as the “Spirit Molecule”, is a psychedelic compound in the tryptamine family and can be found naturally in many plants. The native people of Amazonian Peru consume DMT as the primary psychoactive substance in “Ayahuasca Tea”, a brew used for divinatory and healing purposes. Drinking the tea produces a long lasting, slow, deep metaphysical experience similar to that of psilocybin mushrooms. Clinical effects of DMT include hallucinations and vomiting. 


DMT is a schedule 1 drug and illegal in the United States. However, its analog, 5-Meo-DMT is neither scheduled nor controlled and is easily purchased online. It is more potent than DMT, is generally smoked, and produces an intense high of short duration with hallucinations. The Sonoran Desert Toad and Colorado River Toad naturally secrets 5 Meo-DMT and there have been many reports of people licking the toad to get high.

It is not uncommon for people to have psychological and mental difficulties lasting several weeks after taking too large a dose of 5-MeO-DMT. Too much can cause intense hallucinations, loss of connection to reality, disorientation, panic attacks, anxiety, sweating, and nausea. 5-MEO-DMT is known on the street as “Dimitri” and “The Businessman’s High”.

There are a number of designer tryptamines being sold online as a research chemical; they are AMT, 5-MEO-BFE, 5-MEO-DALT, NMT, DALT, and 5-MEO-DIPT (known on the street as foxy methoxy, foxy, fake ecstasy).


MXE (Methoxetamine; Ketamine-like)


This synthetic “research chemical” mimics the effects of ketamine and has hallucinogenic and dissociative effects similar to ketamine. It is not scheduled and sold on the street as MXE, M-Ket, Kmax, and Mexxy. The packages say, “not for human consumption” but the drug induces euphoria and hallucinations. Users report feeling detached from the world. Little is known about the potential toxicity of methoxetamine, but people have been hospitalized after using the drug.


Designer Opiates


Acetyl Fentanyl


Acetyl fentanyl is a new and lethal drug and is becoming more popular among narcotic abusers. The drug looks similar to heroin and is being sold as heroin. Numerous deaths among intravenous drug users due to this drug have been reported across the US. In fact, the drug came to the attention of authorities after several deaths of narcotic addicts were investigated and the drug was identified in blood samples by ELISA testing (using antibodies) but not detected by GC/MS (detects chemical molecules).The drug is not available by prescription and said not to be available in the US. However, the drug is available online and sold without questions as a “research chemical.” Overdoses are treated the same as any opiate overdose. However, the drug is 15X more potent than heroin and larger doses of rescue medications are often necessary.


AH-7921 (3,4-dichloro N-(1-dimethylamino)cyclohexylmethylbenzamide)


This very new drug being sold online is another designer opiate. It targets the µ-opioid receptors in the human brain. It has around 80% the potency of Morphine when taken orally. It can easily be sold as Heroin on the street and is extremely pure. Some are calling this doxylam, but it has never been sold commercially for medicinal use. It has been recently reported that AH-7921 is the active ingredient used in the “synthetic cannabis” (spice, K2) that is being manufactured in Japan.

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