Emerging Drug Trends Over 2015

You may have heard of ketamine, or special K, but you might not know much about it. Many people associate the drug with a horse tranquilizer because that is what it is currently primarily used for. Developed during the Vietnam War as an anesthetic, alternative to PCP, and as a safer painkiller, ketamine virtually disappeared from hospital settings for nearly two decades.

Emerging Drug Trends Over 2015

Each year, addictive substances come and go. Some are around for a short period of time and others become an alarming trend that spreads across countries and even continents. Over 2015, caffeine powder and cannabis use increased. The later was more likely to do with regulations which overturned legal and medical status of the drug in many areas of the world. What’s more concerning to medical professional, addiction specialists, rehabs and loved ones are specific drugs that come with dangerous health effects and/or a strong addictive potential.

According the National Institute of Health in the United States, the following drugs have “burst” onto the drug scene rapidly and funnelled through a network of dealers and users. These substances have caused numerous legal consequences, overdoses and fatalities.
For loved ones concerned that a person they care about is using any substance, it’s important to become aware of any emerging drug trend. By doing so, you will be better able to spot use and abuse potentially before an addiction, or something worse, has developed.


Fentanyl is a prescribed opioid which is 30 to 50 times stronger than heroin. It comes in the form of a wearable sticky patch, lozenges, pills, injectables or films that dissolve in the mouth. This legal, yet powerful painkiller, is given to treat chronic pain, cancer patients or people who have already developed a tolerance to other painkillers like morphine.

The brand names of fentanyl include Actiq, Duragesic, and Sublimaze. An abuser of the drug may refer to its street names which include China white, goodfella, jackpot, TNT or Apache (these may vary from location and time period).

The reason fentanyl has became an emerging drug trend of 2015 is partly due to its ease of availability. In some locations, it is easier to get than other opiates like heroin. It is also more affordable and in general is purer than street drugs. However, it is very strong and it is this very reason why people are rapidly overdosing on the drug. Many users underestimate its potency and some choose to mix it with cocaine or other painkillers. This cocktail could produce extreme and deadly effects.

Synthetic Cannabinoids

Also known as K2 or Spice, these drugs were initially sold as “plant food or incense”. In this legal loophole, users, especially young adults, were purchasing the small packets but had no intentions of feeding plants with them. Spice is a synthetic cannabinoid or in other words, was created in a lab in the UK. It was an experimental project which hit the streets in 2006 and has rapidly spread throughout the UK, Europe and the US. Although chemically related to marijuana, the effects are far more potent and can be more dangerous. Users may refer to spice as Blonde, Summit, Standard, Blaze, Red Dawn X, Citron, Green Giant, Smacked, Wicked X, and AK-47. As of 2015, reports were coming out stating that these names were being changed to mislead authorities – this is not confirmed.

The biggest concern with the growing trend in synthetic cannabinoids is that the mixture or chemicals used to make the drug are always changing in bid to escape laws and regulations which have been enacted as a way of curbing abuse. Little to no information is available about the toxicology of the drugs, and when smoked, many users develop anger, agitation, nausea, psychosis, arrhythmia, rapid breathing, seizure, coma and in extreme cases, death.

Synthetic Cathinone

As of late 2015, this drug trend was only found in Florida and Georgia (USA). Because of the effects, law enforcement suspect it will emerge in other parts of the country. Its chemical name is alpha-pyrrolidinopentiophenone (or alpha-PDP). Users call it “Flakka”. Alpha-PDP is similar to another drug trend known as bath salts and comes in a white or pink, foul smelling substance. The small crystals can be eaten, snorted, smoked or injected. When the vapours are smoked or the crystals are snorted, the drug enters the bloodstream very rapidly leading to a high potential of overdose. Like bath salts, Flakka can cause extreme delirium, hyper stimulation, paranoia and strong hallucinations. As of late 2015, Flakka has been known to cause several heart attacks, stroke, suicide and injury due to reckless behaviour.

The above are only some of the trending drugs for 2015, and which ones will continue to grow, pop up on the market, or cease to exist is still unknown.

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