As drug abuse and misuse becomes a more and more discussed topic in media and popular culture, the war against it rages on continuously. As drug producers and peddlers become craftier in their trade, so do companies that’s business is reliant upon detecting certain substances that are most likely to be abused. However, their methods are not foolproof and in order to deter more people from taking substances against medical advice, drug-testing practices need to be improved and the general needs to be more educated on which substances are able to pass below the radar of common drug tests and how to notice signs of abuse without having physical evidence. This becomes necessary, because often addiction can be thwarted earlier if loved ones become aware the individual in question is abusing drugs. Here we will discuss which substances, legal as well as illegal, can be inappropriately taken to achieve narcotic effects. Yet these undetectable drugs are difficult or impossible to detect on common urine sample drug tests, a distinct reason these drugs have become so popular in modern day drug users.
According the DEA, or Drug Enforcement Agency, inhalants are “invisible, volatile substances found in common household products that produce chemical vapors that are inhaled to induce psychoactive or mind altering effects.” These substances can be found in a wide variety of products but some of the most commonly abused are glue, lighter fluids, paints and paint thinners, whipped cream canisters that contain nitrous oxide and compressed air electronics cleaners, also known as dust-off.
These substances are often overlooked as possible routes through which addicts choose to get high, though they become viable and secretive options for addicts who are trying to avoid detection, as these substances are not detectable on drug tests whatsoever. Though these substances are illegal if used in any form other than their intended use, they are easily accessible because many of them can be found in the average household or can be bought at any home improvement store. This poses a massive threat to the curious youth or struggling drug addict due to these substances availability and relatively short-lived high.
With that being said, legality should not imply that these drugs are by any means safe, as inhalant use is extremely dangerous and has been known to cause death for first time users and can have serious side effects on long-term users, such as heart failure, respiratory issues, weight loss and permanent brain damage. Because regular urine drug testing does not detect these forms of narcotics, anyone concerned with another’s possible inhalant use should look for the signs and symptoms of inhalant abuse. These commonly include red or runny nose and eyes, chemical breath odor, unusual paint stains on body or clothes, spots or sores around the mouth, nausea, loss of appetite and alcohol-like intoxication.
In recent years, brand new substances have been making appearances in the hands of drug users and addicts much to the dismay of law enforcement, with the source being the local smoke shop or convenience store. These substances are synthetic drugs, and they act almost identically to the drugs they are designed to mimic. But, because of their recent exposure in contemporary culture they have yet to be recognized or regulated by the government on a large scale making it easier to obtain them compared to other drugs.
Most of the time, these substances are purchased in convincing packaging claiming the contents to be incense or potpourri and clearly marked “Not For Human Consumption,” even though human consumption is clearly what their intended purpose is. Entire research papers could be written on the large number of different synthetic drugs that exist, so for the purpose of this blog we will discuss just a few of the most popular within the community of drug abusers looking to avoid detection on drug tests.
While most of these drugs aren’t tested for on standard 12-panel drug tests, it is important to note that unlike inhalants many of these drugs can be detected in lab tests or hair samples, though these can sometimes be quite time consuming and expensive, which makes them unrealistic for the average household.
Spice & K2
Spice, also known as K2, is a synthetic form of THC, the main active ingredient in marijuana. Spice is ingested in much the same way as marijuana with similar side effects, yet there are many differences, which need to be discussed. Unlike marijuana, which is a natural plant, spice contains compounds produced in laboratories that are then sprayed over non-psychoactive plants, thus turning a once innocuous plant into a narcotic.
The danger of this comes from a lack of professional supervision in this process, leading to undocumented quantities of a practically unknown drug, which then becomes ingested. Hence, someone who is used to smoking a certain quantity of marijuana might find that the same quantity of spice actually contains ten times the amount of active compounds, which could result in serious injury to organs as well as psychosis or even death.
Bath salts, a synthetic stimulant, gained infamy in 2012 when a Floridian man exhibited violent and psychotic behavior and was believed to be under the influence of the drug. Since then, synthetic cathinones (stimulants) and other designer drugs have taken on the moniker of “bath salts,” with the name referring to the hygiene products that they are often advertised as. These synthetics are designed to mimic the effects of other stimulants such as cocaine, methamphetamine and MDMA, but differ in chemical structure enough to avoid detection on average drug tests and to avoid being deemed illegal.
Common side effects of these substances include euphoria, alertness, psychosis, sweating, headaches, paranoia, hallucinations and aggressiveness just to name a few. These drugs are very dangerous and can cause serious damage to the body as well as death. Similar to spice, these new synthetic drugs are created in foreign laboratories that are not subjected to the same amount of regulation as domestic ones are, and are much more easily able to mask the fact that they are creating a hazardous substance with psychoactive effects.
Hallucinogens: LSD, Mushrooms and DMT
Drug culture has for years been saturated by the depiction of hallucinogens such as “magic mushrooms” or LSD as a colorful, comic and sometimes spiritual experience. This characterization could not be further from the truth though, as hallucinogens are not harmless substances and can produce effects that are much more powerful than intended and can last much longer than intended also. Due to the chemical makeup of these substances, detection of them on standard urine drug tests is nearly impossible, though like synthetics discussed earlier laboratory tests can sometimes divulge whether hallucinogenic use is present.
Because of this fact, hallucinogens have become increasingly popular with addicts in treatment centers or environments where drug testing is being done. The body quickly metabolizes hallucinogens, so unless the user was tested with the intention of specifically identifying certain chemicals, such as psilocybin within a matter of 24 hours from the use, it could be impossible to detect them. The best bet for identifying hallucinogens is by noticing unusual behavior displayed by the person in question because these drugs have very telltale side effects. These include hallucinations, distortions on perception, dilated pupils, extreme fluctuations in body temperature, racing thoughts, psychotic episodes and sleeplessness to name a few.
Because we have discussed in detail the ways in which drug addicts can deceive drug tests, it may be easy to assume that drug tests are not a viable option at all and should be disregarded. Actually, these tools are very helpful in deterring abusers from using drugs if they know that a drug test is possible. That being said, they should be used as aids in conjunction with therapy and a supportive sober community and not as a foolproof solution to an addict’s battle with substances. If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction, please seek professional help and know that recovery is possible.