Grant Hobson was the latest teenager from Texas' fast-growing Montgomery County to fall victim to synthetic LSD; shortly after the chemical-laden stamp touched his tongue, the 16-year-old was brain-dead. A string of similar tragedies has led the county to push back against the emerging epidemic, with local law enforcement investigating the source of the deadly drug. There's also been increased support for a new bill that would make it easier to regulate the drug state-wide—and punish those pushing it out to the region's teens. But synthetic acid is really just the tip of the iceberg.
All kinds of synthetic drugs are popular among teens as a potentially safer, legal alternative to their illicit counterparts. Synthetic marijuana—which masquerades under a long list of other names, including spice, K2, or fake weed—is the second-most commonly used drug among high school seniors, according to recent estimates, right behind the real thing. But the pseudo pot's legal status doesn't make it a safer option; synthetic cannabinoids are actually more potent than the THC found in real marijuana, and the stronger effects have resulted in thousands of poisonings since the drugs hit the market in the early 2000s (often labeled “not for human consumption”).
Synthetic marijuana—which masquerades under a long list of other names, including spice, K2, fake weed—is the second-most commonly used drug among high school seniors, according to recent estimates, right behind the real thing.
Drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, and using other illicit substances all make teens more likely than their peers to try synthetic marijuana, according to a survey of 11,863 high school seniors in the United States. In fact, researchers found that both drinking and smoking cigarettes roughly doubled a student’s risk of using the synthetic drug, and the more often teens went out with friends during the week, the more likely they were to use the drug, perhaps because of increased exposure. White people—specifically white males—are at greatest risk of using the drug, according to the study, which was published online in Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Unsurprisingly, the use of real marijuana was the best predictor of later synthetic marijuana use.
Designer drugs are well on their way to dethroning their natural counterparts in the U.S. and abroad as the substance of choice among users. It's a bizarre development in the world of narcotics; fitting then that it may have all started with one strange man's quest to kick meth, half a world away.