The unknown dangers of ‘legal’ drugs



I read an article about the use of ‘legal drugs’ to get high by Dr. John Ramsey, a toxicologist. It was quite alarming. You only hear about these drug cases when some adverse consequence results, but there are so many others out there.

Attention has always been on cannabis, ecstasy, cocaine, heroine, amphetamines, etc. These have all been classified as ‘illegal’. There are set negative consequences for their use. Yet debate still rages on over them. The ones being ignored are the ones that are in easy access. And the reason for this is that these ‘legally available’ drugs are constantly being changed.

Just looking over the history of this kind of drug abuse, you can recall the problem of kids sniffing glue, then graduating to sniffing household cleaners and the like. Public awareness of these dangers led to warning labels and campaigns to teach children. Not too long ago, we had cough syrup being used in new ways to achieve a high. There became stricter regulations on buying cough syrup.

Dr. Ramsey outlined the case of BZP, first introduced in New Zealand. What it was originally marketed for, I don’t know, but word came about that it was a ‘safer legal alternative’ to crystal meth. BZP derived from piperazine, a safe anti-parasitic medication. When BZP became popular, the authorities began investigating. They tried to study its safety but had to stop due to severe side effects suffered by participants. New Zealand banned the drug, but it had made its way into Europe. The UK is still pending a decision on this. I don’t know what they are waiting for. The drug had been shown to have properties similar to amphetamine and ecstasy, both of which are banned. In addition, it had some severe side effects.

It seems that those intent on using or abusing drugs will find new ways of developing new compounds. There is a constant black market for these ‘head drugs’. Unfortunately, there is no regulation because the authorities cannot keep up. Buyers and sellers are not fully aware of the negative effects until they experience them. Sometimes, these negative effects are permanent, whether disability or death. Not only should the government pay attention to those already classified as ‘illegal’, they need to make people aware of using any kind of drugs to get ‘high’.  Just because they are not ‘illegal’ doesn’t mean they are safe.

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