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Monday, November 16, 2009

10 Drugs You Won’t Believe Are Not Controlled Substances


Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 established the legal precedent for our current drug control policies in the United States.  The law is more commonly referred to as the Controlled Substance Act (CSA), and it is an extensive and complex piece of legislation that dictates restrictions on a multitude of substances.  With so many drugs falling under the control of the CSA, it would seem that the government has covered it’s bases when it comes to potential drugs of abuse.  However, despite the extensive restrictions placed on seemingly every drug one could think of, some have still managed to fall through the cracks.  For this reason, I present to you the reader, ten drugs you won’t believe aren’t controlled substances.
Before we begin, there are some things that I should take the time to clarify.  To start, when I say a “controlled substance,” I mean exactly that, a drug that is subject to restrictions and limitations as dictated by the Controlled Substance Act.  For our purposes, we will not be discussing any drugs that are controlled by the CSA, however some of the substances I will mention may be controlled in other ways.  Ultimately what is implied by a drug not being a controlled substance, is that an individual may self administer the drug as they see fit without needing to jump through any of the legal hoops set forth by the CSA.


10.  L-Dopamine:
            Most drugs of abuse have a profound impact on the reward center of the brain, which is expressed by the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine.  Dopamine is the brain’s way of rewarding the body for a job well done.  Weather it be finding food, laughing at something funny, or reaching sexual climax, dopamine is released to inform the individual that what they have done is good, and that if they would like to be rewarded with dopamine again, they can do so by participating that activity again.
            Drugs can also release dopamine, and in particular stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine cause the brain to release massive quantities of dopamine, making the user feel better than they have ever felt in their entire life.  Both methamphetamine and cocaine are controlled substances, and it seems unusual that synthetic forms of the main neurotransmitter that those drugs act upon are not controlled as well.  L-Dopamine is not controlled by the CSA, and is considered a research chemical, and thus it is widely available on the Internet.

9.  L-Adrenaline:
            Adrenaline or epinephrine/norepinephrine is another neurotransmitter produced naturally in the body, and is typically associated with the “fight or flight” response.  It could be said that adrenaline is the drug of choice for “adrenaline junkies” and those who like to get “high on life.”  In reality, adrenaline might not actually be the cause of the good vibes that adrenaline junkies and “life addicts” experience, and it is more likely that those feelings are caused by dopamine and endorphins.  However, considering that it is the position of the federal government that one does not get high on anything, it seems odd that this one also falls under the category of research chemical.

8.  JWH-018
            JWH-018 is an analgesic compound that acts at cannabinoid receptors in the brain, and produces similar effects as THC, the active ingredient in cannabis.  The acronym JWH stands for John W. Huffman, who was one of the developers of the substance.  This drug is sometimes found in “legal highs” that are intended to substitute cannabis.  Such legal highs are often sold as incense, or in the case of raw JWH-018 it is sometimes sold as plant fertilizer.  JWH-018 may be subject to control soon, as it is currently being researched as a painkiller due to its analgesic properties.

7.  Nitrous Oxide:
            Also known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide has a variety of applications including automobile performance, aerosol propellant (commonly used in whip cream canisters), and anesthesia.  If you have ever had a cavity filled, there is a good chance your dentist used this gas to take your mind off the fact that he is drilling through your teeth. 
When inhaled, nitrous oxide produces disorientation, auditory hallucinations, and a profound sense of euphoria.  The downside is that none of these effects last longer than a minute after the gas is exhaled.  However that doesn’t prevent individuals from chronically abusing the drug, and deaths have occurred by asphyxiation when individuals have attempted to use the gas in a confined space such as a plastic bag or closet in order to prolong the effects.

6.  2C-I
This one is a tricky one, as it technically could be considered a controlled substance based on the CSA analogs act, which automatically makes any analog of a schedule I or II drug a controlled substance by default.  On the other hand, if it is not sold for human consumption, it may pass that criterion and be available for sale for some other purpose such as a research chemical.  The drug is similar in structure to that of 2C-B, which is a psychedelic drug and a controlled substance.  Its effects have been described as combination of LSD and ecstasy.  Other than that, the drug is virtually unstudied, and little is known about its toxicity and side effects.

5.  Salvia
            Now we are getting into more familiar territory for most.  Salvia divinorum, or the diviner’s sage, is a powerful psychoactive herb.  Its main psychoactive compound is a powerful k-opioid receptor agonist, or in other words it acts at similar brain receptors that opiate drugs do.  It is often sold as incense, and can be smoke or ingested.  Its effects include, uncontrollable laughter, hallucinations; feelings of becoming one with objects and well… if you really want to see what happens just look it up on youtube. 
The DEA currently has its sticky fingers and prying eyes fixated on salvia, so there is a good chance that it won’t be legal for long, so you know, stock up (seriously though, don’t).  Also, according to Wikipedia, which for our purposes will serve as the culmination of all of humankind’s knowledge, the liquor and tobacco industries are two of the main lobbyers for salvias classification as a controlled substance.  It is kind of ironic that two industries that contribute to some of the most numerous cases of preventable death want a drug to be illegal isn’t it?

4.  Tramadol:
            Tramadol is a synthetic opiate analgesic painkiller.  It is not a controlled substance in the United States, although a prescription is typically required in order to acquire the drug.  The effects are similar to other opiate painkillers such as vicodin, and like all other opiates, tramadol is addictive.  Unlike other opiate however, tramadol has the withdrawal symptoms of regular opiates in conjunction with more dangerous withdrawals symptoms such as seizures, which can be fatal as cardiac arrest can occur.  In addition, tramadol acts as a selective norepinephrine serotonin reuptake inhibitor in the same manor that antidepressants such as prozac do, which means that it has a myriad of unsafe drug interactions.  Don’t mess with this one my few and dedicated readers, its bad news in a little white pill.

3.  Phenazapam:
            This one you probably haven’t heard of, and it’s another one of those drugs that falls through the legal loopholes of “not intended for human consumption,” and “for research purposes only.”  Phenazapam is a benzodiazepine like valium (diazepam) and xanax (alazopram), and it is considered to be about four times as powerful as xanax.  Like all benzodiazepines, phenazapam has the potential to produce amnesia, euphoria, and physical dependence.  Benzodiazepines act on gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain in a similar fashion to alcohol.  Withdrawals from benzodiazepines can be fatal due to the potential for seizures to occur after cessation of the drug.

2. Dextromethorphan:
            If you have taken an over the counter cough medicine recently, odds are you have ingested this drug.  Dextromethorphan was used to replace the opiate codeine as a cough suppressant in over the counter cough preparations, when it was determined that the abuse potential for codeine was to great to allow individuals to self administer the drug.  Interestingly enough, dextromethorphan is closely related to two powerful opiate analgesics, levorphanal and levomethorphan.  Levorphanal has the same properties as morphine in terms of addiction, dependence, and withdrawal, although it is about four to eight time as powerful as morphine.
            Of course, dextromethorphan is not an opiate itself, nor does it produce the effects of opiates when used recreationally.  At therapeutic doses used in cold medications, dextromethorphan acts as an antitussive, and relieves cough.  However at high doses far exceeding dose recommendations for cough suppression, dextromethorphan acts as a powerful disassociative psychedelic.  Dextromethorphan is an NMDA receptor antagonist, and has a mechanism of action similar to that of ketamine (special K) and phencyclidine (PCP).
            You may have seen news stories in the last few years describing a group of teenagers getting sent to the hospital after ingesting a whole pack of cold medicine in an attempt to “dex” or “robotrip.”  In other words, they were trying to get high off of cold medicine, and overdosed on the other active ingredients in the drug, typically acetaminophen or whatever nasal decongestant was in the medicine.  Of course, overdoses of dextromethorphan can also occur, and dextromethorphan’s lethal dose is only about ten times greater than its effective dose.

1.  Alcohol:
            "Wait what, alcohol?" 
Yes, alcohol.  Alcohol is subject to other forms of legal control, but it is not a substance controlled by the CSA, and users are free to self-administer the drug as they see fit. 
"Wait, alcohol is a drug?"
Yes, alcohol is a psychoactive drug, and a very, very powerful drug at that.  Alcohol affects the brain in a similar manor to benzodiazepines and barbiturates as it increases levels of GABA in the brain.  GABA is the body’s primary inhibitory neurotransmitter, and slows neuronal activity.  What this means for the user is that when GABA is released by alcohol, one feels calm and relaxed.
Alcohol use is pervasive in nearly all western cultures, and most of us don’t think a thing of it when we have drink or six.  Alcohol has been used for thousands of years by many different societies, and well, that is pretty much one of the main reasons for it remaining legal.  That and the fact that the last time our government tried to prohibit it’s use, it didn’t go so well.  Many would argue that our experience with alcohol is a perfect example of why prohibiting the use of drugs is generally ineffective.
In every state in the United States, one is considered to be legally intoxicated by alcohol with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08%.  Fatalities due to alcohol overdose occur with a BAC of about 0.45% - 0.5%, although some may be more or less susceptible to its toxic effects depending on the individual’s tolerance for the drug.  This means that alcohol’s lethal dose is only about six times greater than its effective dose, making it about as dangerous as heroin in terms of potential risk of fatal overdose, yikes!  Unlike heroin, alcohol use causes far more extensive damage to the body’s organs, as it is a solvent.  The risk of overdosing on alcohol is about three times greater than the risk of overdosing on cocaine, and about one hundred and fifty times greater than the risk of overdosing on cannabis or psilocybin (magic mushrooms), that is, if one was even able to ingest that much cannabis or shrooms.
Alcohol is also addictive, and alcohol addiction is referred to as alcoholism.  According to the Henningfield and Benowitz ratings, of all drugs of abuse, alcohol has the worst withdrawal severity, and produces the strongest physical intoxication, worse than cocaine, and worse than heroin.  In other words alcohol is bar none, the most powerful and dangerous drug one can acquire legal or otherwise.  Now, remind me again, why it is perfectly acceptable to drink alcohol, but it isn’t okay do smoke cannabis?  Oh, right, there is absolutely no rational, logical reason for that prerogative whatsoever.

To sum up, the CSA hardly controls all drugs that could potentially be abused, nor could it, as when one is made illegal, another will quickly take its place.  In addition, many out and out illegal drugs such as cannabis, LSD, and psilocybin are far safer, and much less likely to be abused than society’s current legal drug of choice, alcohol.  In light of this, one must wonder, have I have over looked something about drugs such as cannabis, or do our policy makers have their heads crammed so far up their rear ends, that they can’t see the light of day, let alone the obvious differences in safety between alcohol and many schedule I drugs?

An Additional Note:
In this article I have discussed the availability of a number of rather unsafe substance, and in no uncertain terms should my dissemination of this information be considered permission from me to seek out and abuse said substances.  In fact, this article is meant to serve as a warning as to how unsafe these drugs actually are.  Some of the drugs I have mentioned have never really been tested on humans, or even animals, and there is no possible way to know how dangerous they actually may be.  If you disregard my warnings and attempt to seek out and abuse said substances, let it be known that you’re intelligence is likely on par with a large rock or a bag of hammers.  Seriously, do not even think about messing around with the drugs I have discussed, it could be the last thing you ever do.

3 comments:

  1. wow, 2009 they were talking about this stuff, nutty!

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