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Some drugs are more commonly adulterated than others. These include:
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that, in 2014, 10.2 percent of people aged 12 and older had used illicit drugs in the past month. Although abuse of street drugs is a common problem in the US, the perception of many of these substances is that they are adulterated with a variety of chemicals or fillers, from crushed prescription drugs to dried herbs to glass.
The term adulterant applies to any substance in an illicit drug that is not the active ingredient. When measuring these substances, there are some indications of dangerous chemicals and added intoxicating substances; however, adulterants can also include nonreactive substances used to increase the bulk or weight of the drugs when sold. The most common of these bulking agents is sugar. These can be added intentionally, or they can be byproducts of the manufacturing process. In some cases, adulterants are bacteria, fungi, or other organisms that can cause infection.
Heroin is one of the most commonly abused street drugs. As a manufactured drug, some adulterants are a product of the process of converting opium plants into morphine, then into heroin. However, numerous other adulterants can be added to heroin to increase the drug’s potency, to make it appear like there is more heroin, or to allegedly take the “edge” off a heroin high. Some of these adulterants include:
In the US, cocaine is relatively pure compared to other countries. However, lacing or adulterating the product is still a common practice. Some common adulterants in cocaine include:
Ecstasy, MDMA, and related amphetamine “club drugs” tend to be extremely impure when sold on the black market. Other things the drugs may contain include:
Marijuana’s popularity has led to higher grades of the substance, more regulation at the state level, and a differentiation in medical and recreational use. However, marijuana bought illegally, typically for recreational use, is more likely to have many adulterants in it, including:
There are many news reports and urban legends of food being laced with LSD, including candy, gum, and even steaks. LSD itself is a manufactured drug, and in recent years, it has reportedly been laced with PCP (phencyclidine). These two hallucinogens in combination can dramatically increase the psychological dangers associated with LSD, including paranoia, psychosis, terror, and aggression.
Impure Narcotic Painkillers
Oxycodone and hydrocodone are the primary culprits in the current opioid abuse epidemic. Most people who struggle with addiction to these substances are introduced through a doctor’s prescription but then are unable to stop taking these medications or take more to experience a high. If their doctor stops filling their prescription due to concerns about addictive behaviors, the individual may turn to illicit substances; sometimes, that means switching to heroin, but there is also an increasing black market for prescription narcotics.
Prescription painkillers on the black market are often laced with other substances. The most recent trend has been to lace Vicodin, Percocet, OxyContin, and other prescription pain relievers that are sold illegally with fentanyl, a pain medication more powerful than morphine. This rapidly increases the risk of overdose, respiratory depression, and death.
Most of the evidence regarding adulterants is anecdotal, although some studies have examined adulterants as they became more popular and led to waves of overdoses. Most recently, increased painkiller and heroin overdoses due to fentanyl have drawn more attention to the issue. Other adulterants, such as fungus, sugars, or lead, can cause serious health consequences, so the problem is widespread.
Use of illicit drugs carries many side effects that can severely damage health, so it is important to stop abusing illicit substances as soon as possible. Recovery can happen with the right help. Reach out for that help today.