Dec. 30, 2004 — -- A new class of drugs is getting increased attention from police and partyers alike.
Synthetic hallucinogens, which are growing in popularity at nightclubs and rave parties, are so new that many don't even have street names yet.
Usually manufactured in small home-based laboratories, these drugs have law enforcement and health officials concerned because their long-term health effects are virtually unknown.
The drugs reportedly have effects similar to the popular rave drug ecstasy: feelings of euphoria, emotional empathy and colorful hallucinations. The typical user is a young, white, college-educated and Web-savvy person who finds that these drugs complement the dance music heard at nightclubs and raves.
"It's kind of mildly hallucinogenic and visual," said Gregory, a graphic designer from California who tried one of these drugs for the first time last year. "Colors were really brilliant and crisp, and I became really relaxed."
Most synthetic hallucinogens are still referred to by a confusing alphabet soup of names based on their chemical compounds.
2C-B is considered one of the most popular of these drugs. 2C-T-7 is often compared to LSD for its colorful hallucinations. AMT was originally developed in the 1960s for antidepressant research, but was abandoned shortly thereafter. 5-MEO-DiPT, also referred to as "Foxy," is sometimes used as a substitute for ecstasy.
"Because these drugs are unstudied in the medical literature, we don't know all of the side effects or all of the dangers involved in the use of these drugs," said Paula Berezansky, intelligence analyst for the National Drug Intelligence Center, a component agency of the U.S. Department of Justice.
The illicit way in which synthetic hallucinogens are sold presents another problem. "A user may not know what they're buying," Berezansky added. "Something sold as one drug may be another."