Novel Psychoactive Substances

Many conscientious parents are aware of the terrible scourge of drug addiction that grips many in our nation and in particular locally here in Ocean County.  I wish t0 make you all aware of another danger that exists somewhat under the radar–“novel psychoactive substances” (NPS).  These products are usually not specifically illegal to sell or possess in the US but have various intoxicating effects.  Needless to say, as they are not meant for human consumption they can also often cause serious harm.

There are basically 4 categories of NPS:

  • Stimulants–drugs similar in action to cocaine, amphetamines, and MDMA(“ecstasy”).  The most commonly used agent here is mephredone which is sold in the US as a garden fertilizer.  Street names are drone, M-CAT, white magic, or meow-meow.  Taken orally (“bombing”) snorted, injected, even anally.  Toxic effects include agitation, psychosis, hypertension or even heart attack, elevated body temperature, seizures.  If mixed with certain standard prescription or OTC drugs can also cause potentially life threatening serotonin syndrome.
  • Cannabinoids–marijuana like substances.  There are a variety of “herbal essence” products that are often used in vape devices.  Brand names include K-2, Spice, Black Mamba, Bliss, Bombay Blue, Genie, Zohai.  Side effects include sleepiness confusion, excessive sweating.  Rarely can cause cardiac toxicity(hypertension or heart attack) kidney, lung, or neurologic damage( seizure or stroke).
  • Hallucinogens–there are 2 classes:
  1. Dissociative–the primary agent is methoxetamine (“mexxy”) It is not specifically illegal in NJ and can be purchased online.  It produces a sensation of weightlessness and “out of body” experience.  Side effects include nausea and vomiting, cramping, cardiovascular problems.  Injury and death from accidents caused by impulsive or careless behavior is not uncommon.
  2. Psychedelics–LSD like effects.  Most common example is NBOMe.  This class os substance is currently on a “temporary” Class I status so cannot legally be obtained in the US.
  • Depressants–also 2 classes
  1. benzodiazepine like–common agents are diclazepam or flubromazepam.  They also are available online.  They cause confusion, somnolence.  These drugs’ effects last longer than commonly used variants like valium or xanax–sometimes > 1 day.
  2. Opioids–morphine or heroine like effects of calm, sleepiness but can progress to coma, respiratory depression.  They do respond to antidote naloxone (“narcan”).  Common agents AH-7921 was made Class I illegal as of May 2016, however MT-45 is a lower level variant which is still available legally online in the US.  While nominally somewhat milder, it can be deadly if combined with alcohol or other drugs with sedating effects.

My advise to concerned parents, of course, is vigilance.  Pay attention to your teen’s social environment.  Monitor computer and smart phone use.  Be very aware of online purchases (if you permit them) and if you do not recognize a product purchased or in their possession be sure to look into it very carefully.

And, certainly, call me with questions, and thanks for following.