Personalised Designer Drug Treatment
Table of Contents
What are Designer Drugs?
Designer drugs is an informal term for psychoactive drugs that were initially discovered through the research of, and experimentation upon, the structure and activity of existing psychoactive drugs. They are created in concealed locations and/or homemade labs.
A designer drug generally mimics the effects of well-known drugs such as cocaine, morphine or cannabis, by using chemicals that are legally available on the market. The resulting drugs have similar effects to the well-known drugs, but their chemical structures are completely different.
Types of Designer Drugs
Mephedrone (synthetic stimulant), spice (synthetic cannabinoid), and foxy methoxy (synthetic hallucinogen) are some examples of designer drugs. Designer drugs are sold as innocent-sounding products, most commonly labelled as potpourri or incense, synthetic marijuana, bath salts, plant food or jewellery cleaner.
Because these drugs are labelled as “not for human consumption” they are often not subject to any of the legal regulations that apply to drugs – despite the fact that they are often significantly stronger and less well understood than their illicit counterparts.
In the UK, to avoid being controlled by the Medicines Act, designer drugs such as mephedrone have been described as “bath salts” or “plant food”, despite the compounds having no history of being used for these purposes.
Designer drugs are also known as club drugs because they tend to be abused by teens and young adults at bars, nightclubs, concerts, and parties.
The three major categories of these drugs are:
- Synthetic cannabinoids
- Synthetic stimulants (often marketed as “bath salts” but mimicking cocaine, methamphetamines and Ecstasy) and:
- Synthetic hallucinogens (mimicking LSD and Ecstasy).
The Effects of Designer Drugs
Depending upon the drug taken, a person may experience feelings of exhilaration, prolonged periods of wakefulness, decreased appetite, extreme relaxation, amnesia and feelings of detachment. Unwanted effects might include hallucinations, panic attacks, aggressive behaviour or feelings of paranoia. In addition, there may be physical effects like nausea, significant changes in blood pressure, seizures, slurred speech and blackouts. These drugs can even cause coma and death.
Signs of Designer Drug Abuse
In the case of designer drugs, many of the signs of abuse are similar to the signs of addiction to alcohol or street drugs:
- Changes in behaviour: isolation from family; defensive about drug use
- Unexplained weight loss or gain
- Changes in hygiene or personal appearance
- Confused or disoriented behaviour
- Problems with sleeping: insomnia, restlessness, nightmares
- Stealing money from family members
- A decline in performance at school or work
- Trouble maintaining relationships
- Loss of interest in former friends and activities
Some of the signs that someone you know may be abusing designer drugs:
- Discarded glass vials, or small plastic bags, with traces of white powder
- Pipes, inhalers or syringes
- Paranoid or delusional behaviour
- Visual disturbances or hallucinations
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Uncertainties about the sources, chemicals, and possible contaminants used to manufacture many designer drugs make it extremely difficult to determine toxicity and associated medical consequences. Some drugs are mixed with alcohol and illicit drugs, worsening their side effects.
The use of designer drugs can decrease inhibitions and encourage risk-taking behaviour, increasing the chances that a teen will drive while intoxicated, have unsafe sex or suffer an accidental injury.
Many designer drugs can’t be detected through urinalysis or other screening methods, making it difficult to measure intoxication levels.
Designer drugs can produce some dangerous side effects:
- Physical and psychological addiction
- Mood changes
- Sleep disturbances
- Psychotic behaviour
- Hyperthermia (overheating)
- Heart failure
- High blood pressure
- Fatal respiratory problems
- Coma and even death
Since designer drugs are created in illegal labs, their ingredients and potency vary a lot, making it nearly impossible to know what is actually in them or what they can do to you. Some identified withdrawal symptoms are insomnia, anxiety, tremors, sweating, physical dependence and addiction.
A person who is withdrawing from designer drugs may experience depression, agitation, nausea and vomiting, tremors or cold sweats and other symptoms such as a rapid heart rate and high blood pressure.
Treatment at Castle Craig for Designer Drugs Addiction
There is very little information available in scientific/medical literature about treatment for people who abuse or are dependent upon designer drugs. Treating these is difficult because we don’t know what exactly the patient has taken, so the symptoms are usually treated. Fortunately, we have a lot of experience in helping patients through the detoxification process at Castle Craig Hospital, and they are given 24/7 medical coverage and all the support they need.
As well as detox, psychological (“talking”) therapies are offered to patients at Castle Craig. The key is to help the person understand how the abuse got started, and what can be done in the future to keep the habits from returning (relapse prevention). Counselling plays a key role in this process, as do support group meetings.
How Can Castle Craig Help?
How Do I Pay For Rehab?
One concern we sometimes hear from people is how they will fund their rehab treatment. The cost of rehab varies depending on what kind of accommodation you choose. You can pay for treatment at Castle Craig privately, or through medical insurance, and some people receive funding through the NHS.
How Long Is the Rehab Programme?
Residential rehab treatment starts at four weeks and can go up to 12+ weeks. Research shows us that the longer you stay in rehab and are part of the residential therapy programme, the longer the likelihood of continued abstinence and stable recovery.
Who Will I Speak to When I Call?
When you call you will reach our Help Centre team who will give you all the information you need to help you decide whether to choose treatment at Castle Craig. Once you have decided that you would like to have a free screening assessment you will be put in touch with our admissions case managers who will guide you through the admissions process.
What Happens at the End of My Treatment?
Castle Craig thoroughly prepares patients before departure by creating a personalised continuing care plan which is formulated following discussions with the medical and therapeutic team. We offer an online continuing care programme which runs for 24 weeks after leaving treatment, in order to ensure a smooth transition back into your everyday life. Patients leaving treatment automatically join our Recovery Club where they can stay connected via our annual reunion, events, online workshops and recovery newsletters.