Too Many Illicit Drugs to Be Able to Keep Track of Them All

[1]Hundreds of new psychoactive substances have emerged in our culture over the past few years; these substances are powerful, life threatening and often times killers of our young people! A recent study from New York University concluded that use of these type of substances is under-reported. During the NYU study, they surveyed people attending NYC EDM parties in reference to their use of drugs. Approximately one individual out of ten reported no use of “bath salts,” a synthetic cathinone that are amphetamine-like stimulants.  An example of this is Alpha-PVP, also known as “Flakka.” However, the same individuals who denied use as per the gate question, then reported use of at least one or more drugs in this class, such as methylone.  This shows evidence of under-reporting.

With all of the overdoses happening in every town, in every state, you have to wonder how many of these overdoses were attributed to heroin when in fact other illicit drugs and analog drugs may have caused the death. Some of these new substances can’t even be tested for as of yet. I think any research that brings attention to the drug problem is tremendous. Some of the drug users themselves don’t even know what they’re using. There are copycat drugs that are killing users where one drug is replaced by another but made to look like a copycat.

Flakka use reportedly has been linked to widespread use and bizarre behaviors in South Florida. Currently, monitoring  street drugs relies mostly on data from poisonings and seizures, with little to no data on self-reported use. Adding to the problem is that often times people think they are buying and ingesting one drug when in fact, it is actually one of these new substances.  It is often unknown or unintentional that these new substances are used. This makes it nearly impossible to gauge specific usage from traditional survey methods.

Dr. Joseph Palmer, PhD, MPH of the New York University Rory Myers College of Nursing’s Center for Drug Use and HIV Research was quoted as saying, “Research was needed to determine how to ask about use of these new drugs on health surveys.” Because there are so many new substances and they have so many different street names, it would be a daunting task to accurately conduct any type of meaningful survey.

The NYU team surveyed 1,048 individuals entering electronic dance music parties in New York City throughout the summer of 2016 in reference to their personal drug use. It turns out that there are many individuals using Methylone in the EDM scene that didn’t even know that Methylone is a “Bath salt.” “Bath salts” are a highly-stigmatized drug by many partiers that didn’t even realize they were using them.

[2]Methylone: A popular drug today that is sold as Molly or MDMA, and also included in other mixtures is Methylone. Methylone is a close structural match of MDMA; it was first produced in 1996 for potential use as an antidepressant. Users have stated that they used the chemical to get a similar effect to MDMA. Methylone has almost the same strength as MDMA; however, it does not produce the same effects.  It has an antidepressant type action that is pleasant and positive, but not the same feeling as MDMA. The label stopped Dutch authorities from being able to immediately block sales. Chemical analysis of \"Explosion\" confirmed that the active ingredient was methylone. There have been many formulations sold as household chemicals, as well as the pure compound sold. Methylone central nervous system effects include stimulation, euphoria or dysphoria. The increase in sociability, hyperthermia, and sweating.

Getting accurate reports when hospitals, emergency departments, medical examiners and coroners have fatal overdoses arrive in their facilities is a challenge.  Are they screening for heroin, fentanyl and other substances in suspected opioid overdose incidents? If they are and the test comes back negative, fentanyl analogs, and other substances should be suspected and tested for also.  This is the only way that reporting as to the cause of death is accurate and complete.  This is the only way for officials to get an understanding as to the truth of what is really taking place with the current drug epidemic. No longer is it just heroin that is claiming the lives of illicit drug users.

[3]“Flakka” is an illegal synthetic drug also nicknamed “Magic,” and “gravel;” the actual name of this illicit, and dangerous synthetic “bath salt” or synthetic drug is Alpha-PVP.  This substance looks like rock salt and reeks of ammonia; it sells for approximately $100 to $500 a gram.  This killer has traveled across southern Florida silently sneaking up on the people of the south over the past eighteen months.

Flakka can trigger a dangerous syndrome called excited delirium, which makes users bodies feel like they are on fire!  The drug causes the body’s temperature to rise up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit or more in some extreme cases.  Often users will tear off their clothes in public, think imaginary people or animals are chasing them.  Quite often flakka users have seizures, requiring immediate life-saving medical attention.

There have been reports of users experiencing adrenaline-fueled strength and displaying insane behavior.  Flakka’s euphoria lasts longer than crack cocaine, is more intense as a stimulant than methamphetamine, can cause aggression, delusions, and an elevated heart rate.  Some substance abusers claim that flakka blocks the ability to think; they also say that although they are afraid of the drug, they can’t stop using it.

Substance abusers snort, dissolve under the tongue, vape, shoot or smoke Flakka and can still pass drug screening testing on their jobs or in the judicial system.  Users will stay up for days chasing the high from the first hit.  The name “Flakka” is a colloquial Spanish term referring to an elegant, beautiful, slender female who is charming.  Flakka is anything but!

 Although the DEA placed this drug on its list of illegal controlled substances in 2014, people can still order this dream-ending monster on the internet from China and India.  Flakka comes into the United States marked as research chemicals, plant fertilizer, insect repellants, and other solvents to get through customs.

According to The Drug Enforcement Administration, flakka acts like a cross between cocaine and meth; causing euphoria and mild hallucinations, with sinister effects such as seizures, paranoia, bizarre and psychotic actions, aggressive behaviors, delusions, and zombie-like behavior, all that can lead to injury or death.

Flakka identification can be difficult; it can be sold as white, pink, or blue crystals, powder, pills, within liquid form, etc.

Bath Salts: Synthetic Cathinones, man-made chemically related to the Khat plant, a shrub grown in East Africa and Southern Arabia. Synthetic versions can be much more powerful and dangerous! Contains NPS, white or brown crystal-like powder, sold in small plastic or foil packages usually labeled “Not for human consumption.”  Brand names include: Flakka, Bloom, Cloud Nine, Lunar Wave, Vanilla Sky, White Lightning, Scarface, and more. People snort, smoke, swallow, and inject Bath Salts. Can cause paranoia, hallucinations, panic attacks, increased sex drive, excited delirium, and violent behavior.  Can also cause nosebleeds, sweating, kidney failure, dehydration, seizures, and can be life threatening.  The drug heats the brain up and clouds it at the same time.  Can be bought at local gas stations for $5.00 and lasts all day.  Although we see less of these type of sales today, bath salts are available for purchase on the internet and on the street.

Analogue drugs are here and they are an added problem.  Amazingly, even Carfentanil has been consumed and taken young lives.  Below is a list of some of the substances you should be familiar with if you work in the addiction industry, hospital, emergency services, as well as teachers and parents.

Alfentanil also known as Alfenta, an ultra-short-acting analgesic.

Sufentanil also known as Sufenta, a potent analgesic (five to ten times more potent than fentanyl)

Remifentanil also known as Ultiva, currently the shortest-acting opioid.

Carfentanil also known as Wildnil is an analog of fentanyl, (10,000 times stronger than morphine.)

W-15 and W-18 These are U-opioid agonist with a distinctive chemical structure that does not seem related to any other family of opioid. W-18 is by far the more powerful of the two with bioavailability, half-life, tolerance, 10,000x more powerful than morphine vs. W-15 is 5.4 x stronger.

MT-45, which is about 80%, as strong as morphine.

AH-7921 an opioid analgesic also about 80% the strength of morphine.

U-47700 an opioid analgesic selective for the U-opioid receptor 7.5 times the potency of morphine.

Butyr-fentanyl or butyrylfentanyl is a synthetic opioid analgesic, an analog of Fentanyl, approximately .25% of the strength of Fentanyl.

Acetylfentanyl an analogue of fentanyl 40 times stronger than heroin, 80 times more potent than morphine, and 15 times less potent than fentanyl.

Designer Drugs: Designer drugs are structural or functional analogues of controlled substances; they mimic the effects of parent drugs while avoiding detection as illicit or illegal substances.  These drugs are very dangerous. Often these are not detected on drug tests and can really throw a monkey wrench into research and statistics.

How do we stay on top of all of these new substances and their usage by people? I don’t know that any survey in the world is going to bring truthful answers to the problem. Perhaps laws against making, transporting, selling, and using these substances that are killing people may be the only answer? It certainly seems like the problem is out of control. Perhaps something can be done with these countries that think it’s alright to peddle poison to our children!

© 2017 Rev. Dr. Kevin T. Coughlin Ph.D.

 Rev. Dr. Kevin T. Coughlin Ph.D. is a #1 Best-Selling Author & Award-Winning Poet, CIP Interventionist, International Master Addictions Coach, Pastoral Counselor and Christian Therapist, and Domestic Violence Christian Advocate. He has written and published over thirty books and thousands of articles. Rev. Dr. Coughlin created a curriculum for AMA/APA training after twenty years as the Director of a residential recovery facility and then trained numerous professionals on AMA/APA techniques. He just released three new paperbacks and a series of journals, Addictions: What All Parents Need to Know to Survive the Drug Epidemic, If You Want What We Have; A Journey Through the Twelve Steps of Recovery, and In the Sunlight of the Spirit; A Guide to Spirituality on  These Best-Selling Books and journals are available on  His website is

[1] Science Daily 5/16/2017 “Bath Salt” use under-reported, study reveals


[3] Addictions; What All Parents Need to Survive the Drug Epidemic, Phase IICC Publishing

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