The Next Scary Designer Drug: Smiles

2C-IJust as synthetic marijuana, known as K2 or Spice, and Bath Salts became popular for brief periods of time over the past years, Smiles is the latest man-made drug to be hitting the club scene. Contrary to what its name suggests, it can be very dangerous.

Smiles or 2C-I is a drug in the phenethylamine class, MDMA (ecstasy) is the most famous derivative of the 2C-I group. The class of drugs can simply be described as amphetamines – like methamphetamine – and at the core they produce similar effects, including increased heart rate, sweating, and high blood pressure. However, the alterations made to the molecule add a psychedelic element to the drug’s effects, resulting in hallucinations, giddiness, euphoria, and increased empathy. The effects have been described as a mixture of MDMA and LSD.

The drug comes in the form of a white crystalline powder, but can also be bought as a liquid. It is taken in numerous ways, but the most common is to mix the powder with a substance to consume. The specific formula, including the strength of the drug can vary wildly, and the underground chemists who produce the drug don’t have quality control systems to ensure their safety. As with anything made on the black market, one of the most dangerous aspects of 2C-I is the numerous other substances the batch could be “cut” with.

Aside from the risks associated with their illicit method of production, there are some consistent risks with 2C-I and similar chemicals. Although traditional hallucinogens such as LSD and psilocybin don’t carry significant physical health risks, the fact that they are chemically related to amphetamines means that any derivatives of 2C-I do. The main risk of amphetamine-related substances is to the user’s heart, with the resulting
arrhythmia’s (irregular heartbeat) potentially resulting in cardiac arrest and death. Doctors have also reported users suffering from other consequences such as kidney failure, depression of the nervous system, respiratory failure, and seizures.
The hallucinogenic side to the drug brings another group of risks along with it. Although substances like LSD don’t have dangerous physical consequences, a “bad trip” could result in extreme fear, panic, and horrifying visions. These negative experiences have been documented on 2C-I, with one user describing the experience as akin to a “roller-coaster ride through hell.” Even in “positive” circumstances in which the trip doesn’t turn “bad,” the disconnection with reality it produces brings potential risks in numerous everyday situations.
The biggest danger brought on by the transient legality of substances such as smiles and its derivatives is that they may appear to be “safe” in the eyes of some users. In reality, the fact that the chemicals are in their infancy and are made by unregulated chemists all around the world means they carry the same inherent risks as many illegal substances.
Source: Partnership for a Drug Free America
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