Expert tackles new abused drugs; recommends treatment and stricter borders



“Substance use disorder is a cluster of cognitive, behavioral, and physiological symptoms that should be treated like any other illness”



April 27, 2023 — “Every country is trying to solve the drug problem and what we want is to cut down the supply. We don’t have to kill them [the users], we just have to offer treatment,” Dr. Jose David, specialist in addiction medicine, said in a forum organized by the University of the Philippines Manila (UPM), Asian Drug Policy Center (ADPC), and the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST).


The clinical professor who treats patients with substance use disorder reported ten classes of drugs: alcohol, caffeine, cannabis, hallucinogens, inhalants, opioids, sedatives-hypnotics, anxiolytics, stimulants, and tobacco.


Synthetic drugs or “designer drugs” are also starting to emerge and are increasingly being abused. These are made by "street pharmacists" who find potent derivatives and concoct them in clandestine laboratories.


A comprehensive list of emerging drugs of abuse were discussed during the forum including the following:


Photo illustration of 2 milligrams of Fentanyl, a lethal dose. Courtesy: U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.


Fentanyl. A synthetic opioid that only takes two milligrams for a fatal dose is 50 times more potent than heroin; and 100 times more potent than morphine. It is found to be one of the most detected substances among the overdose deaths in 2022.


Synthetic cathinones. It is commonly referred to as bath salts and mimics the effects of methamphetamine (crystal meth) or the party drug ecstasy. It causes a 950% increase in serotonin and a 500% increase in dopamine. Its side effects include extreme paranoia, delusions, hallucinations, nausea, vomiting, seizures, tachycardia, hypertension, anxiety, agitation, and death.


“This drug can make you so paranoid that a bath salt abuser ate a man’s face,” said Dr. David.



Synthetic cannabinoids. Also known as “K2”, it serves as an alternative to achieve euphoric effects similar to marjiuana. It contains dried and shredded plant material sprayed with chemical additives for psychoactive effects. It is legal in some states in the US and is usually sold at convenience stores with the label “not for human consumption”.