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Recent Trends in Designer Drug Abuse

Barry Logan

Barry Logan, a toxicologist and executive director of the Center for Forensic Science Research and Education in Pennsylvania, focuses much of his work on synthetic drugs. As a toxicologist with a strong interest in these so-called designer drugs, Barry Logan regularly assesses their status among users, as it can frequently change to outpace legal issues and match other trends in drug use.

Some of 2018's most popular synthetic drugs were designed to mirror the effects of popular drugs like marijuana and fentanyl. These drugs can be stronger and more dangerous than their conventional counterparts.
Synthetic marijuana, known as K2 or spice, affects the brain's cannabinoid receptors hundreds of times more powerfully than alcohol. Synthetic marijuana can also often be cut with other substances, further increasing the risk to those who use it. Severe bleeding and death have occurred as the result of some uses of the substance in Illinois.
Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids have spawned imitators as well. Fentanyl's popularity and concentration have made it the leading cause of overdose deaths, but deaths resulting from the use of synthetic analogs to the drug have been on the rise since 2016. Synthetic versions tend to resist conventional overdose antidotes.

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