Oklahoma has seen a regrettable surge in synthetic drugs recently.
In 2018, 308 people died as a result of a drug overdose in Oklahoma. 41% of those deaths were caused by opioids.
While the number of overdose deaths from opioid painkillers fell from 251 to 172 between 2017 and 2018, deaths from heroin and synthetic opioids like fentanyl stayed steady.
Drug cartels are cashing in on synthetic drugs and creating a boom in the drugs industry while also harming the progress made in reducing deaths by opioid overdose.
Today, we’ll explore some of these novel narcotics flooding the streets and causing untold damage kicking off with a quick definition.
What Are Synthetic Drugs?
“Anybody can put a couple of chemicals together, give it a name and a price tag and stick it on the streets, and oftentimes we won’t know about a new drug that’s hit Oklahoma until we get a toxicology report from the hospital or OSBI, or even an autopsy report from the ME’s office.”
– Mark Woodward, Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics.
Synthetic drugs are made in a lab and sold on the street, but sometimes also sold openly in stores.
These drugs are made with chemicals that mimic the effect of natural drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and cannabis.
The chemicals required to make synthetic drugs can be bought on the dark web and paid for with cryptocurrency. This makes transactions very difficult to trace.
Unfortunately, when a synthetic drug is made illegal, the manufacturers simply change the molecular structure to stay one step ahead of the law.
What kind of drugs are flooding the market, then?
Synthetic opioids are illegal, but medical synthetic opioids such as fentanyl are available for prescription for chronic severe pain. Unfortunately, fentanyl is increasingly being mixed with heroin and other street drugs.
In May 2020, 2 people died in Oklahoma after taking “Mexican Oxy” (synthetic Oxycontin pills laced with fentanyl).
As these synthetic pills look much like prescription medicine, users often don’t realize they contain fentanyl. Fentanyl is highly dangerous and can easily cause death by overdose as it’s 50 times stronger than morphine.
Dealers often cut heroin with powdered fentanyl to make it stronger. Since users don’t know how much fentanyl is in their heroin, they can overdose far more easily.
People often take street drugs without realizing they contain a potentially lethal dose of fentanyl.
Synthetic cannabis contains chemicals that mimic cannabis in the central nervous system. It’s either smoked or vaped in liquid form.
Unlike natural marijuana, synthetic cannabis is highly dangerous and puts users into a zombie-like state.
Synthetic cannabis is more commonly known as Spice, but it’s also known as:
- Amsterdam Gold
- Black Mamba
- Blue Cheese
- Hawaiian Haze
- Mary Joy
- Tai High
Synthetic cannabis is trafficked via the postal system so it evades drug enforcement officials.
Unlike natural marijuana, spice can be dangerous to health. In 2016, several people were admitted to hospital with kidney problems after using synthetic cannabinoids.
Synthetic cannabis like spice can cause:
- Loss of consciousness
- Respiratory failure
It’s practically impossible to suppress the production and distribution of synthetic cannabinoids as manufacturers change the molecular structure whenever a strain of this drug is outlawed.
Crystal methamphetamine, also known as crystal meth, meth, crank, and crystal, is a synthetic drug that’s rife in Oklahoma.
Meth is highly addictive and acutely dangerous. It gives users an extreme rush of euphoria. The drug is so addictive that users start seeking more immediately after the high wears off.
People can make a great deal of money from making and selling crystal meth due to the low manufacturing costs.
Crystal meth production reached astronomical levels in Oklahoma until the state tightened up regulations on the sale of Sudafed. Sudafed contains pseudoephedrine, a vital component of crystal meth.
Despite the legislation, crystal meth production just changed distribution and production continued. 15 pounds of crystal meth crosses the border from Mexico each week.
There’s some controversy surrounding the tightening of security at the border with Mexico. The higher the security, the more demand for meth there will be which could lead to more meth labs.
Busting meth labs doesn’t get to the source of the problem.
Meth kills more people in Oklahoma than other drugs. In 2017, 327 people died from a methamphetamine overdose in Oklahoma.
The Crisis in Oklahoma
As big money is to be made from synthetic drugs such as meth, fentanyl, and synthetic cannabinoids, drug cartels will continue to flood Oklahoma’s streets with highly addictive, dangerous substances.
Coupled with the opioid crisis, the problem of synthetic drugs in Oklahoma will persist and cause more overdose deaths.
More investment and improved access to treatment is vital to help people to detox from substances and help to heal their communities.
Synthetic drugs are cheaper than natural or prescription drugs. In a state like Oklahoma, this makes many are an easy target for the drug cartels and drug labs.
What To Do Next
With the right treatment, people who are addicted to synthetic drugs can become substance-free and resume a fruitful and healthy life.
If you need some help today cleaning up and reclaiming the life you once enjoyed, there’s no need to go it alone. At Landmark Recovery of Oklahoma City, we genuinely care and we know you can do it. Call us today at 405-896-8426.
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