Synthetic Drug Use On The Rise


Lawmakers are being hit from every direction when it comes to substance abuse: the opioid epidemic, relaxed attitudes on marijuana, and synthetic drug use. As the nation moves closer to an election year, many are wondering how these issues are going to be handled – especially when it comes to opioids and synthetic drugs. In recent months, a number of plans and measures have been announced to address prescription opioids and heroin; however, there has been significantly less talk about synthetic drug use.

While synthetic drug use is a new problem, relatively speaking, tackling use of these insidious drugs is of the utmost importance. New research suggests that synthetic drug use is on the rise among certain demographics, News-Medical reports. Researchers from New York University Langone Medical Center analyzed self-reported use of 57 different new drugs. The findings come from data in the National Survey of Drug Use and Health which indicated that synthetic drug use increased from 2009 to 2013 among teenagers and young adults ages 12 to 34.

Synthetic drug use was most common among:

  • Males
  • Whites
  • City Dwellers
  • People with Lower Incomes

“This is the first study reporting on use of a variety of new drugs in a nationally representative U.S. sample,” lead researcher Joseph J. Palamar, PhD, MPH, said in a news release. “However, we’re pretty confident that use of new drugs was severely underreported, as the research subjects were not asked about most of these drugs specifically.”

Palamar adds the older research indicates that synthetic marijuana and bath salt use is being used at higher rates, according to the article. Future surveys need to ask about synthetic drug use.

“Hundreds of new psychoactive drugs have come out in recent years and some of them can be very dangerous,” he said. “We need health surveys to ask about use of new drugs, in addition to traditional drugs such as marijuana and cocaine, in order to quickly pick up on potential drug epidemics.”

The findings are published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.


If you are or a loved one is abusing synthetic drugs, please contact Harmony Foundation to begin the journey of recovery. Harmony is a state-of-the-art, affordable, residential addiction treatment program located in the Rocky Mountains.

Addiction and recovery news provided by Harmony Foundation.