“Synthetic substances” is a term used to describe a huge selection of black market drugs manufactured for the purpose of creating the same effects as marijuana and hallucinogens. They go by the name of bath salts, incense, spice and K2 on the street, and they have recently been banned from store shelves in a number of states as law enforcement and government agencies scramble to keep up with the ever-changing chemical makeup of these substances and make them illegal.

Don’t be fooled by the innocuous or cute names, the fun packaging, or easy and legal access; these drugs are dangerous even if they are momentarily legal. Here’s what you need to know.

Physically Dangerous

Synthetic substances have been linked anecdotally to violent attacks, rash behavior and suicides. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) opened an investigation to explore a number of hospitalizations that are said to have been caused by use of synthetic substances.

Variable Chemical Makeup

No two synthetic drugs are alike, and no two batches of the drug sold under the same name are alike either. Black market chemists who create the drugs are constantly altering the chemical production in order to elude the law, and the result is an ever-changing substance that works differently every time the person uses it, often with devastating results.


These drugs first showed up on the street here in the US in 2009, according to CNN. Every year, they’ve become more and more popular. Young people like them because they’re easy to access. Easily found online and often available on shelves in truck stops and corner stores, many try these drugs out of curiosity and ultimately develop a drug problem as a result – or buy them to augment an existing issue.


Up to this point, 38 states and the federal government have banned substances often used to make synthetic substances. However, those who make the drugs skirt the laws by creating different substances that are chemically legal but sold for the same purpose and under the same names. Though in some cases the substances are technically legal, buyers and sellers alike are often confused about what’s in the packages sold and what the current, most updated laws say – just another reason why it’s always a risk to purchase or use these drugs.


Drug addiction and abuse in any form is a highly treatable issue. Through medical help and supervision as well as long-term therapeutic intervention and support, anyone can work their way back from substance abuse and build a life in recovery. Contact us at Black Bear Lodge today to learn more about how we can help you start down your own personal road to a new life in sobriety.

Articles posted here are primarily educational and may not directly reflect the offerings at Black Bear Lodge. For more specific information on programs at Black Bear Lodge, contact us today.