January 16, 2024

Synthetic Drug Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, & Treatment

image of man representing synthetic drug addiction

Synthetic drugs, often referred to as designer drugs or NPSs (new psychoactive substances), are a pressing public health concern. Their unregulated status means that these mind-altering compounds often include unknown and potentially hazardous ingredients, creating significant health risks for anyone using these substances. This guide highlights the dangers associated with synthetic drug use and shows you how to connect with evidence-based addiction treatment.

Are Synthetic Drugs Addictive?

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The question of whether synthetic drugs are addictive is complex and hinges on variables that include the specific synthetic drug in question and individual susceptibility to addiction.

Synthetic drugs are readily accessible due to their ease of production, and the DEA (United States Drug Enforcement Administration) has not classified many of these NPSs as illegal. The DEA has managed to identify and prohibit only a limited number of these synthetic drugs.

Regrettably, these synthetic drugs can be discovered in many legal retail establishments. They may be marketed under deceptive labels like herbal incense or potpourri. To circumvent drug laws, the packaging may bear disclaimers such as “Not for human consumption.” That said, many people disregard these warnings and consume these manufactured drugs, regardless of the labeling.

The addictiveness of synthetic drugs varies based on their chemical composition. Some synthetic drugs are designed to have a high affinity for certain receptors in the brain, making them more addictive. Others may have a less potent effect. Synthetic cathinones, for instance, trigger effects similar to those of well-known stimulants like meth or MDMA. Anecdotal reports suggest that these effects are more intense than the effects triggered by MDMA, but more fleeting, prompting many people to consume larger quantities, amplifying adverse effects and potential toxicity.

The potency and purity of synthetic drugs can fluctuate widely, making it challenging for people to gauge the strength of the substance they are consuming. This unpredictability can increase the risk of addiction, as people may inadvertently consume a stronger dose than intended.

The method of delivery can also impact the addictiveness of synthetic drugs . Smoking or injecting these substances delivers a more rapid and intense high, which can increase the risk of addiction.

Individual susceptibility to addiction plays a significant role. Some people may have a strong genetic predisposition to addiction, making them more vulnerable to the addictive effects of synthetic drugs.

Signs of Synthetic Drug Addiction

Recognizing the signs of synthetic drug addiction can help people seek timely assistance and support. While the specific signs can vary depending on the substance and the person, some common indicators of synthetic drug addiction include:

  • Compulsive use: Individuals may find themselves using synthetic drugs repeatedly, often in larger amounts or more frequently than initially intended.
  • Cravings: Strong and persistent cravings for synthetic drugs can be a clear sign of addiction. These cravings can interfere with daily life and lead to obsessive thoughts about obtaining and using the substance.
  • Loss of control: People addicted to synthetic drugs often struggle to control their use, even when they are aware of the negative consequences. They may make unsuccessful attempts to cut down or quit using the drug.
  • Neglecting responsibilities: Addiction can lead to neglecting important responsibilities at home, work, or school. People may prioritize obtaining and using synthetic drugs over their everyday obligations.
  • Withdrawal symptoms: When attempting to moderate or discontinue use, withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, depression, nausea, and agitation may manifest. These symptoms can be a strong motivator to continue using the substance.
  • Physical and psychological changes: Prolonged synthetic drug use can lead to physical and psychological changes, including weight loss, erratic behavior, mood swings, and cognitive impairments.
  • Social isolation: People may withdraw from social activities, hobbies, and relationships they once enjoyed in favor of spending more time using synthetic drugs.
  • Legal and financial issues: Addiction to synthetic drugs can result in legal problems due to the possession or distribution of these substances. Financial issues may also stem from the cumulative cost of acquiring synthetic drugs.
  • Tolerance: Over time, people may develop tolerance to synthetic drugs, meaning that larger doses are needed to deliver the desired effects. This can contribute to the destructive cycle of addiction.
  • Denial: Many people addicted to synthetic drugs deny or minimize their problem, making it challenging for them to seek help on their own.
image representing the question how addictive are synthetic drugs

Synthetic Drug Addiction Symptoms

The symptoms of synthetic drug addiction can manifest in various ways, affecting both physical and psychological well-being. These symptoms may include:

Psychological symptoms:

  • Intense cravings for synthetic drugs.
  • Mood swings, including irritability, anxiety, and depression.
  • Impaired judgment and decision-making.
  • Hallucinations or paranoia.
  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing on tasks.

Physical symptoms:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Insomnia or disrupted sleep patterns.
  • Profuse sweating and overheating.
  • Nausea, vomiting, and gastrointestinal problems.
  • Weight loss and decreased appetite.

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Engaging in risky behaviors to obtain synthetic drugs.
  • Neglecting personal hygiene and grooming.
  • Isolation from friends and family.
  • Reduced participation in social or recreational activities.
  • Frequent and secretive drug use.

Health consequences:

  • Synthetic drug addiction can lead to a range of health issues, including cardiovascular problems, respiratory distress, and cognitive impairment.

The severity and combination of symptoms can vary from person to person. If you or someone you care about exhibits these signs and symptoms, seek professional help and support to address synthetic drug addiction effectively.

Treatment for Synthetic Drug Addiction

Overcoming synthetic drug addiction is possible with the right treatment and support. The process of recovery normally involves a blend of medical, psychological, and social interventions. Treatment approaches may vary based on the specific synthetic drug involved, individual needs, and the severity of the substance use disorder

Medical detoxification

For those who have developed physical dependence on synthetic drugs, a medically supervised detoxification process may be necessary. This involves managing withdrawal symptoms safely under the care of healthcare professionals. Medical detox can help alleviate discomfort and reduce the risk of complications during withdrawal.

Inpatient or residential rehab

In cases of severe addiction, inpatient or residential treatment programs is often recommended. Inpatient programs provide a structured and supportive environment where individuals can focus entirely on their recovery. They offer a range of services, including counseling, therapy, medical monitoring, and holistic therapies.

Outpatient rehab

Outpatient treatment programs are suitable for people with less severe addictions or those who are stepping down from residential rehab. Outpatient programs provide counseling, therapy, and support while allowing participants to continue living at home and maintaining daily responsibilities.

Behavioral therapy

Counseling and behavioral therapy play a central role in addiction treatment. CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and CM (contingency management) are commonly used approaches. These therapies help people identify and change patterns of thoughts and behaviors that contribute to drug use while reinforcing positive behaviors.

Family involvement

Family therapy and education can be integral components of addiction treatment. Involving family members can help repair relationships and provide a strong support system for the person in recovery.

Support groups

Participation in support groups like NA (Narcotics Anonymous) or SMART Recovery can be beneficial for many people in recovery. These groups offer peer support, encouragement, and a sense of community that can help people stay motivated and committed to sobriety.

MAT (medication-assisted treatment)

In some cases, FDA-approved medications may be prescribed as part of the treatment plan. For example, buprenorphine or methadone may be used to manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings in individuals addicted to synthetic opioids. The choice of medication depends on the specific drug and individual needs.

Holistic approaches

Many people benefit strongly from holistic therapies and activities like yoga, meditation, art therapy, and mindfulness practices. These complementary approaches can promote overall well-being and aid in managing stress and cravings.

Aftercare and relapse prevention

Recovery from synthetic drug addiction is an ongoing process. After completing formal treatment, individuals are encouraged to participate in aftercare programs, which may include ongoing counseling, support group meetings, and relapse prevention strategies to maintain long-term sobriety.

Addiction treatment should be tailored to the person’s unique needs and circumstances. Seeking professional guidance from addiction specialists or treatment centers can help determine the most appropriate treatment plan for synthetic drug addiction. Recovery is a journey, and with the right support, individuals can achieve and maintain lasting sobriety.

An image of a woman using addiction hotline's to find synthetic drug addiction treatment

Call Addiction Hotline to Get Help for Synthetic Drug Addiction

If you need help finding the right synthetic drug addiction treatment program, call Addiction Hotline at 855-701-0479 for immediate assistance.

All addictions tend to worsen if untreated, but they also respond positively to evidence-based treatment. Hotline staff can help you find detox centers, support groups, inpatient rehabs, and outpatient treatment centers throughout California.

When you are ready to tackle addiction to synthetic drugs, call 855-701-0479 for immediate assistance and help connecting with reputable rehabs in California.

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Compassionate Care for Substance Abuse Treatment

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