New Psychoactive Substances (including kratom, synthetic cannabinoids, synthetic opioids, synthetic cathinones, and more).

Related Chapters:
Fentanyl
Entheogens and Psychedelics

Chapter Sections:
Overview
Ketamine
Khat
Kratom
Krokodil
Synthetic Opioids (e.g. Fentanyl)
Synthetic Cathinones (Mephedrone, Methylone)
Phenethylamines
Salvia Divinorum
Synthetic Cannabinoids
Others - New psychoactive substances are being developed at a rapid rate

Page last updated June 10, 2020 by Doug McVay, Editor/Senior Policy Analyst.

51. Effects of Salvia Divinorum

"Consistent with results from nonhuman animal research (Mowry et al.,2003), the present results suggest a safe physiological profile for salvinorin A at the studied doses, under controlled conditions, and in psychologically and physically healthy hallucinogen-experienced participants. Salvinorin A produced no significant changes in heart rate or blood pressure; no tremor was observed; and no adverse events were reported. Participants tolerated all doses. However, because of the small sample and the healthy, hallucinogen-experienced status of participants, conclusions regarding safety are limited."

Johnson, Matthew W.; MacLean, Katherine A.; Reissig, Chad R.; Prisinzano, Thomas E.; Griffiths, Roland R., "Human sychopharmacology and dose-effects of salvinorin A, a kappa opioid," Drug and Alcohol Dependence (Philadelphia, PA: The College on Problems of Drug Dependence, December 3, 2010), p. 4-5.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

52. Description of Salvia and Its Effects

"Salvia divinorum is a psychoactive plant that can induce dissociative effects and is a potent producer of visual and other hallucinatory experiences. By mass, salvinorin A, the psychoactive substance in the plant, appears to be the most potent naturally occurring hallucinogen. Its native habitat is the cloud forests in Mexico. It has been consumed for hundreds of years by local Mazatec shamans, who use it to facilitate visionary states of consciousness during spiritual healing sessions.57 It is also used in traditional medicine at lower doses as a diuretic to treat ailments including diarrhoea, anaemia, headaches and rheumatism. Effects include various psychedelic experiences, including past memories (e.g. revisiting places from childhood memory), merging with objects and overlapping realities (such as the perception of being in several locations at the same time).58 In contrast to other drugs, its use often prompts dysphoria, i.e. feelings of sadness and depression, as well as fear. In addition, it may prompt a decreased heart rate, slurred speech, lack of coordination and possibly loss of consciousness.59"

UNODC, World Drug Report 2013 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.13.XI.6), p. 66.
https://www.unodc.org/unodc/se...

53. Effects of Salvia Divinorum

"The putative primary psychoactive agent in SD [Salvia divinorum] is a structurally novel KOR [kappa opioid receptor] agonist named salvinorin A (Ortega et al., 1982; Valdés et al., 1984). Consistent with KOR agonist activity, users describe SD in lay literature as hallucinogenic: it produces perceptual distortions, pseudo-hallucinations, and a profoundly altered sense of self and environment, including out-of-body experiences (Aardvark, 1998; Erowid, 2008; Siebert, 1994b; Turner, 1996). SD therefore appears to have the potential to elucidate the role of the KOR receptor system in health and disease (Butelman et al., 2004; Chavkin et al., 2004; Roth et al., 2002)."

Baggott, Matthew J.; Earth Erowid; Fire Erowid; Galloway, Gantt P.; Mendelson, John, "Use patterns and self-reported effects of Salvia divinorum: An internet-based survey," Drug and Alcohol Dependence (Philadelphia, PA: College on Problems of Drug Dependence, October 2010), p. 2.
http://www.maps.org/w3pb/new/2...
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pu...

54. Potential for Abuse or Dependence of Salvia Divinorum

"There was little evidence of dependence in our survey population. At some point, 0.6% (3 people) felt addicted to or dependent upon SD, while 1.2% (6) reported strong cravings for SD. The DSM-IV-R psychiatric diagnostic system in the United States classifies people as drug dependent based on seven criteria. Of the three who reported feelings of addiction or dependence on SD, only one endorsed any DSM-IV criteria (strong cravings and using more SD than planned). When asked about these signs and symptoms individually, 2 additional respondents (0.4%) reported three dependence criteria. None of these individuals reported more than 2 of 13 after-effects characteristic of mu-opioid withdrawal (such as increased sweating, gooseflesh, worsened mood, and diarrhea)."

Baggott, Matthew J.; Earth Erowid; Fire Erowid; Galloway, Gantt P.; Mendelson, John, "Use patterns and self-reported effects of Salvia divinorum: An internet-based survey," Drug and Alcohol Dependence (Philadelphia, PA: College on Problems of Drug Dependence, October 2010), p. 4.
http://www.maps.org/w3pb/new/2...

55. Prevalence of Use of Salvia Divinorum Among Young People in the US

"A tripwire question asks about use of salvia (or salvia divinorum) in the last 12 months. Salvia is an herb with hallucinogenic properties, common to southern Mexico and Central and South Americas. Although it currently is not a drug regulated by the Controlled Substances Act, several states have passed legislation to regulate its use, as have several countries. The Drug Enforcement Agency lists salvia as a drug of concern and has considered classifying it as a Schedule I drug, like LSD or marijuana. Annual prevalence of this drug has been in a steady decline, and in 2015 levels were only 0.7%, 1.2%, and 1.9% among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders, respectively."

Miech, R. A., Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2016). Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use, 1975–2015: Volume I, Secondary school students. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan, p. 93. Available at http://monitoringthefuture.org...
http://monitoringthefuture.org...

56. Synthetic Cannabinoids

"Synthetic cannabinoids are substances chemically produced to mimic tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana. When these substances are sprayed onto dried herbs and then consumed through smoking or oral ingestion, they can produce psychoactive effects similar to those of marijuana."

Sacco, Lisa N. and Finklea, Kristin M., "Synthetic Drugs: Overview and Issues for Congress," Congressional Research Service (Washington, DC: Library of Congress, October 28, 2011), p. 5.
http://www.fas.org...

57. Synthetic Cannabinoids

"Synthetic cannabinoids are functionally similar to delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive principle of cannabis, and bind to the same cannabinoid receptors in the brain and peripheral organs."

Fattore, Liana and Fratta, Walter "Beyond THC: the new generation of cannabinoid designer drugs," Frontiers in Behaviorial Neuroscience (Lausanne, Switzerland: September 2011) Volume 5, Article 60, p. 1.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov...

58. Use of "Spice" and Other Synthetic Cannabinoids Among Young People In The US

"MTF first addressed the use of synthetic marijuana in its 2011 survey, by asking 12th graders about their use in the prior 12 months (which would have covered a considerable period of time prior to the drugs being scheduled). Annual prevalence was found to be 11.4%, making synthetic marijuana the second most widely used class of illicit drug after marijuana among 12th graders. Despite the DEA’s intervention, use among 12th graders remained unchanged in 2012 at 11.3%, which suggests either that compliance with the new scheduling has been limited or that producers of these products have succeeded in continuing to change their chemical formulas to avoid using the ingredients that have been scheduled. In 2012 for the first time 8th and 10th graders were asked about their use of synthetic marijuana; annual prevalence rates were 4.4% and 8.8%, respectively. Use in all 3 grades dropped in 2013, but the decline was significant only among 12th graders. The 2013 rates were 4.0%, 7.4%, and 7.9% for 8th, 10th, and 12th graders, respectively. Among 8th graders, this was the third highest category of illicit drug being used after marijuana and inhalants."

Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Miech, R. A., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2014). Monitoring the Future national results on drug use: 1975-2013: Overview, Key Findings on Adolescent Drug Use. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan, p. 13.
http://www.monitoringthefuture...

59. "Spice" and Synthetic Cannabinoids

"Despite its [marijuana's] long history of use and abuse for both medical and recreational purposes, a new generation of synthetic cannabinoids has recently emerged on the market, which are sold on the Internet as herbal mixtures under the brand names of 'Spice,' 'Spice Gold,' 'Spice Diamond,' 'Arctic Spice,' 'Silver,' 'Aroma,' 'K2,' 'Genie,' 'Scene' or 'Dream,' and advertised as incense products, meditation potpourris, bath additives, or air fresheners. These products are often referred to as 'herbal highs' or 'legal highs' because of their legal status and purported natural herbal make-up."

Fattore, Liana and Fratta, Walter "Beyond THC: the new generation of cannabinoid designer drugs," Frontiers in Behaviorial Neuroscience (Lausanne, Switzerland: September 2011) Volume 5, Article 60, p. 1.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov...

60. Limited Understanding of Synthetic Cannabinoids

"Much of our understanding of cannabinoid tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal has been based on studies involving ?9-THC, a relatively weak partial agonist at CB1 and CB2 receptors. However, the SCBs [Synthetic Cannabinoids] commonly found in quasi-legal commercial products, such as K2 and Spice, are typically full cannabinoid receptor agonists. Importantly, a drug’s efficacy determines how 'powerful' its maximal effects may be in biological systems. A low efficacy cannabinoid like ?9-THC will have a less pronounced maximal effect than a higher efficacy cannabinoid, such as the SCBs present in commercial products, and this difference in maximal effects cannot be overcome simply by increasing the dose of ?9-THC. In other words, no amount of ?9-THC can stimulate cannabinoid receptors to the same degree as the SCBs currently emerging as drugs of abuse. This has left researchers working with these high efficacy SCBs in the unusual position of having to determine whether their effects are related to the unprecedented degree of cannabinoid receptor stimulation elicited by these compounds, or whether they are produced by interactions with other, noncannabinoid receptor systems."

Sherrica Tai and William E. Fantegrossi, "Synthetic Cannabinoids: Pharmacology, Behavioral Effects, and Abuse Potential," Current Addiction Reports, March 15, 2014, DOI 10.1007/s40429-014-0014-y.
http://link.springer.com/artic...

Pages