Designer drugs are any synthetic drug sharing structural similarities to existing controlled substances and pharmaceutical products. These drugs are typically designed to avoid classification, as well as detection in drug tests. Some of them are well-known, while others are one among dozens or hundreds of unclassified analogs. At Visions Treatment Centers, our comprehensive programs offer a patient-centered, holistic approach to teen synthetic designer drug abuse treatment.
The Dangers of Designer Drugs (Synthetic Drugs)
Some of these derivative drugs were designed for research purposes, to understand more about the original drug. Others were specifically designed in illegal labs for recreational use. All designer drugs are concocted synthetically without primarily requiring a plant source (like cannabis, coca leaves, psilocybin, or poppy). Designer drugs include stimulants, depressants, and hallucinogens such as:
- Illegal benzodiazepines (Rohypnol)
- MDMA (ecstasy)
- LSD (acid)
- Synthetic marijuana (spice)
- Synthetic cathinones (bath salts)
- Opioid derivatives
- Amphetamine derivatives
- Dissociative derivatives
- Psychedelic derivatives
- GHB derivatives
- Methaqualone derivatives
These drugs aren’t immediately addictive, and some drugs like MDMA and ketamine have legitimate uses in research and medicine. But because of their potency as hallucinogens, stimulants, and powerful sedatives, designer drugs interact heavily with the brain and leave lasting damage, especially in teens with existing mental health issues. Teens with existing mental health issues are also more likely to use or accept designer drugs and heavily struggle with their use as long-term use leads to addiction.
Signs and Symptoms of Designer Drug Use
Designer drugs describe a variety of different types of drugs, which is why the signs and symptoms for designer drug use and addiction are varied and apply to nearly any psychoactive substance. Teens will experience and display different symptoms if they primarily take sedatives/depressants, or stimulants, or psychedelics, and so on. A mix of several drugs (polydrug use) is not uncommon and can be extremely dangerous. Some of the signs of a designer drug use disorder include:
- Loss of memory, confusion, marked cognitive issues
- Aberrant and unexplained behavioral changes
- Uncharacteristically risky behavior
- Multiple drug-related ER visits
- Struggling to quit, despite earnest attempts
- Signs of psychosis and hallucination
- Hiding and denying clear drug use
- Paranoia and irrational fear
Synthetic Designer Drug Abuse Treatment and Dual Diagnosis
Dual diagnosis synthetic designer drug abuse treatment will always require a different approach. At Visions, we utilize a variety of therapeutic tools and options to help teens learn more about their condition, how their drug use affects their mental health, as well as how to manage cravings and other side effects in the long-term. Designer drugs can be very addictive, as they leave a powerful and lasting impression, especially on a teen’s developing brain. Our synthetic designer drug abuse treatment process requires either residential program support or highly intensive outpatient services:
Inpatient or residential treatment at Visions includes a lengthy stay at one of our facilities, with a treatment and living plan catering to a teen’s circumstances and issues. We address the immediate concerns of chronic drug use, like withdrawal, and work on long-term issues via a repertoire of talk therapy, experiential therapy, and community support.
Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) and Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)
When residential treatment isn’t the right fit for one of our teens, we also offer an outpatient program to provide them with the structure and help they need to work on their dual diagnosis without a stay at one of our inpatient facilities. Our intensive outpatient and partial hospitalization programs also cater to adults.
Treatment doesn’t stop at Visions. We understand mental health disorders and addiction are long-term issues. It takes time to learn to cope with the cravings, thoughts, and behaviors many teens struggle with in a dual diagnosis.
Our treatment is focused on continuing care, as well. We coordinate with parents and the community to help teens get access to local resources for support, from continuing talk therapy with qualified and experienced therapists to finding others with a similar history of mental health and drug use via support groups and helping families better understand how they can help.