Review Article| Volume 32, ISSUE 3, P407-414, September 2012

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Drug Abuse

Newly-Emerging Drugs and Trends
  • Gregory G. Davis
    Forensic Division, Department of Pathology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1515 Sixth Avenue South, Room 220, Birmingham, AL 35233-1601
    Forensic Division, Department of Pathology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1515 Sixth Avenue South, Room 220, Birmingham, AL 35233-1601, USA

    Jefferson County Coroner/Medical Examiner Office, 1515 Sixth Avenue South, Room 220 Birmingham, Alabama 35233-1601, USA
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      The business of producing and selling illicit drugs of abuse is subject to the laws of commerce just as surely as any legitimate business. Specific drugs go in and out of fashion based on consumer demand, price, and availability. The promise of something new and improved appeals to drug users just as it does to people shopping for a new car. Legal efforts to control or eradicate drugs of abuse affect the price, availability, and profitability of a given drug. One approach drug traffickers can take to law enforcement efforts is to overwhelm police and customs officials with the volume of drug being sold; this is the approach of traffickers in cocaine or heroin. Another approach, which requires a degree of sophistication in chemistry, is to create new, more potent compounds that evade existing laws by virtue of their novel chemical structures. These new drugs are chemical variations of existing stimulants, hallucinogens, or opiates. This article gives an overview of these new drugs of abuse, which are listed in Table 1. (Subsequent articles in this issue discuss bath salts and synthetic cannabinoids in greater detail.) This article also presents some new trends in drug abuse, as well as some resources for investigating or learning about trends that will develop in the future.
      • Various new drugs of abuse that are not yet regulated are available for purchase at stores and over the internet.
      • Drugs with new chemical structures may be missed on routine drug screens that are not designed to detect them.
      • Bath salts labeled “not for human consumption” are amphetamine analogs that cause cardiac, neurologic, and psychiatric symptoms characteristic for amphetamines.
      • Herbal incense blends labeled “not for human consumption” contain synthetic cannabinoids that are more potent than marijuana.
      • The incidence of drug abuse in the elderly is increasing and is projected to double by 2020.
      Table 1Emerging drugs of abuse
      Name Alternate Names Effect Chemical Analog Clinical Effects
      Bath salts Charge Plus

      Cloud 9

      Hurricane Charlie

      Ivory Wave

      Ocean Snow

      Red Dove


      White Dove

      White Lightning

      White Rush

      (many more exist)
      Stimulant Amphetamine Hypertension



      Myocardial Infarct




      Legal ecstasy Benzo fury

      Exotic super strong

      Head rush


      party pills

      XXX Strong as Hell

      (others exist)
      Stimulant Piperazine Tachycardia


      Prolonged QT Interval



      Mephentermine Potenay

      Stimulant Amphetamine Same as for bath salts
      Herbal incense Black Magic

      Cloud 9



      Spice Diamond

      Spice Gold

      (many more exist)
      Hallucinogen Cannabinoids Supraventricular Tachycardia



      Methoxetamine None found Hallucinogen Ketamine Tachycardia




      Salvia Diviners Sage

      Magic Mint

      Maria pastora

      Purple Sticky

      Sally D
      Hallucinogen Salvinorin A Hallucinations (seldom present for medical evaluation)
      Kratom Ithang




      Opiate Mitragynine Low dose – stimulant

      High dose – opiate effect
      Xylazine Anestesia de Caballo Tranquilizer Xylazine Skin ulcers
      Note. Street names for herbal incense and kratom obtained from reports and user experience pages at


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