The DEA has had to move quickly to keep up with the evolving combinations of chemicals that are forming new drugs. Earlier this year, Congress moved to ban all forms of the 2C drug family, including 2C-I. The bill, passed in June, also banned synthetic marijuana, bath salts, and other chemically-engineered drugs.
But the rise of synthetic drugs may only be just beginning, Bergen-Cico warned. As smiles users have begun posting videos of themselves while high on the drug to YouTube and writing reviews of the drug's effects on internet message boards, interest around the country has piqued.
"I can guarantee we're only just beginning to see this deluge of new designer drugs, where there's something going to be coming out every couple months. It's a money making business. As soon as it's saturated or uncool or they get busted, they're going to find new things to develop," she said.
The U.S., in response to the new market for designer drugs, must take steps to both ban them and help users make safe decisions, she said.
"We need to find ways to reduce risk and demand, to let users find safe easy access to information, and to let them know that if they are concerned that someone is overdosing, being able to let them know what their medical amnesty options are."