List of ‘synthetic’ stimulants continue to grow among youth

List of ‘synthetic’ stimulants continue to grow among youth

Local educators are becoming concerned about the access students have to common household products that are gaining popularity as drugs. 

The Tennessee Department of Health is issuing a warning to the public about health issues arising from improper use of household goods, synthetic stimulants and other items not meant for human consumption. 

The number of individuals in need of emergency medical treatment following use of synthetic stimulants has increased dramatically in recent weeks. These substances have been banned for sale in states like Kentucky and Florida. There is proposed legislation to take similar action in Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and Alabama, to name a few. Household goods, including inhalants, bath salts and nutmeg can cause seizures, cardiac damage and even death.

“Our students and young adults run the risk of serious physical harm by using or consuming these products,” said Health Commissioner Susan R. Cooper, MSN, RN. “As with prevention of illegal drug use and prescription drug abuse, we are asking parents and others with responsibility for teens and youth to be aware and remain vigilant for signs of use of these products. If someone has symptoms that appear life-threatening, they or someone close to them should seek emergency treatment immediately.”

The following are commonly used by young people to achieve a quick, cheap high:

• Inhalants are breathable chemical vapors that users intentionally inhale because of the chemicals’ mind-altering effects. The substances inhaled are often common household products that contain volatile solvents, aerosols or gases.

• Nutmeg contains myristicin, a natural compound that has mind-altering effects if ingested in large doses. The effects can be hallucinogenic, much like LSD. 

• Bath salts are a drug that includes a chemical called MDPV (methylenedioxypyrovalerone) that produces a meth-like high and sometimes violent behavior in users. They are often sold as packets of white powder with names like Vanilla Sky, Ivory Wave and White Rush. These can be readily found in convenience stores and gas stations.

• Molly’s Plant Food and Purple Monkey Plant Food are often billed as a legal, synthetic form of ecstasy. The lab-created powder has known contaminants that are damaging to the brain and neurological system and can create uncontrollable body movements. Like bath salts, these products can be found in convenience stores and gas stations. 

• Salvia, or Salvia divinorum, is a psychoactive, naturally growing plant. Salvinorin A is the main chemical found in salvia that causes it to be hallucinogenic. 

Referred to as synthetic marijuana, salvia can cause serious side effects that may lead to hospitalization. Salvia divinorum and salvinorin A are the chemicals found in other synthetic cannabis products such as K2 and Spice.

Tina Brown, a teacher in Weakley County Schools and member of the Weakley County Prevention Coalition, reports the latest drug menace to hit the area is mephedrone. It is being sold as bath salts, plant food and plant fertilizer and is typically marked with the words “not for human consumption.”

Product names for bath salts include Ivory Wave, Vanilla Sky, Pure Ivory, Zoom and Sextacy. Product names for plant food or fertilizer include Molly’s Plant Food, Buzz Grow, 4MMC, m-Cat, and Meow Meow. Mephedrone is a synthetic drug that is currently legal and can be ordered online or bought over the counter at head shops, gas stations, and convenience stores across the land. The powerful stimulant is one of the most popular of the new generation of legal highs that have been synthesized by Chinese and south-east Asian chemists. 

Its effects are similar to amphetamine, ecstasy or cocaine and it has risen from nowhere to become the favorite new drug. It is a white, off-white powder or yellowish powder that is usually snorted but can also be swallowed from wraps of paper. 

The National Institutes on Drug Abuse provides information online to help parents and other adults talk to children and youth about drugs at The organization has information specifically for students and young adults at 

If you or someone you know has poison or drug concerns, call the Tennessee Poison Control Center toll free at 1-800-222-1222. Assistance is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities offers the Tennessee REDLINE, a toll-free information and referral line that provides accurate, up-to-date alcohol, drug, problem gambling and other addiction information and referrals to all citizens of Tennessee. 

The service can be reached by calling 1-800-889-9789.

wcp 3/1/11

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