How the Dangers of Natural Drugs Compare to Synthetics

How the Dangers of Natural Drugs Compare to Synthetics

Spice is a commonly abused synthetic drug

California residents have used medical and recreational drugs for quite some time, so they often think that natural drugs (those that grow or are obtained directly from plants) are safer than synthetic substances. The Congressional Research Service describes synthetic drugs as those that are “chemically produced in a laboratory. Their chemical structure can be either identical to or different from naturally occurring drugs, and their effects are designed to mimic or even enhance those of natural drugs” (“Synthetic Drugs: Overview and Issues for Congress,” September 2013). Synthetic drugs are often stronger than their natural counterparts, but this does not mean that natural drugs are harmless.

The History of Natural Drug Use and Associated Dangers

Natural drugs like opium appear in some of the earliest records of history, where writers explain its perceived medical benefits and uses. The downsides of use and the concept of addiction were also well known at that time, because drugs have been abused for as long as they have been used. Furthermore, attempts at regulation began as early as 2200 BC, as “cultures have historical records of codes or laws enacted to control the use of a wide variety of drugs within their societies” (Drug Use and Abuse in Society, Charles Davis). Moving forward to today, while natural drug use has deep roots in California cultures, religions and recreation, even early users recognized that these substances had considerable dangers.

Davis explains that “physicians endorsed distilled spirits to strengthen the heart, ward off fever, nourish the body, cheer the soul and prolong life[, but] social consequences of alcohol such as public disorder, drunkenness and poverty rose.” Furthermore, alcohol is a natural drug that is legal to use and obtain, yet abusing this substances causes major problems for individuals and communities. Other natural drugs (such as opium, marijuana and hallucinogens) are more strictly regulated, which reflects the awareness of the risks associated with abusing these substances.

The History of Synthetic Drug Use and Associated Dangers

The biomedical model of medicine became prominent in the early 1900s. At that time, science disabused people of thinking that ill humors and vapors caused mental and physical illnesses to inform people of the germ theory and the idea of using a specific cure for a specific disease. Synthetic drugs, or those produced chemically, began to replace common “cures” that once included opium, alcohol or other natural drugs. While many synthetic drugs saved lives and advanced scientific knowledge, they also offered more opportunities for addiction to develop. Powerful opiates (such as OxyContin and hydrocodone) were derived from opium, which fueled the current prescription drug abuse epidemic. Knowledge about drug manufacturing has led to new substances that circumvent current drug laws, so California residents can buy several dangerous, legal drugs. As new and more powerful substances are synthesized, new opportunities for abuse and addiction arise, making use of even legal synthetic drugs quite dangerous.

Help for California Drug Addicts

No matter the substance involved, drug abuse is dangerous. If you or a California loved one experiments with or is addicted to any drug, then seek help to stop drug abuse in its tracks. Call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline for information on mediation and recovery, because our admissions coordinators can connect you with the best resources for individualized treatment.

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