Synthetic Drugs: The Effects And Dangers Of Living In A Former Drug House

What Are Synthetic Drugs? Synthetic drugs can be powerful, highly addictive stimulants that affect the central nervous system. Some of these types of drugs were developed early in the 20th century and were used originally in nasal decongestants and bronchial inhalers. Similar to other legal drugs, these synthetic drugs act as stimulants and cause increased activity and talkativeness, decreased appetite, and a pleasurable sense of well-being or euphoria. However, synthetic drugs can be extremely harmful on the central nervous system.

What is a drug lab? A synthetic drug lab is an illegal drug manufacturing site containing materials required to manufacture synthetic drugs. Production of these drugs is difficult to control because they are made from common household items that are readily available at supermarkets and hardware stores. When these ingredients are mixed together or “cooked” they can produce a white, odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder that easily dissolves in water or alcohol. It can be smoked, snorted, injected, or orally ingested.

What are the immediate effects of such synthetic drugs? As a powerful stimulant, these drugs can increase wakefulness and physical activity and decrease appetite – even in small doses. They can produce a pleasurable high or euphoria. But synthetic drugs can also cause a variety of cardiovascular problems, including rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat, and increased blood pressure. Hyperthemia (elevated body temperature) and convulsions may occur with synthetic drug overdose, and if not treated immediately, can result in death.

What are the long-term effects of synthetic drugs? Long-term abuse has many negative consequences, including addiction, which is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, and accompanied by functional and molecular changes in the brain. Over time and with increased use, tolerance to synthetic drugs’ pleasurable effects requires abusers to take higher doses in greater frequency to achieve the desired effect. Chronic drug abusers may develop difficulty feeling any pleasure other than that provided by the drug, fueling further abuse. In addition to addiction, abusers may experience psychosis, changes in brain structure and function, deficits in thinking and motor skills, distractability, memory loss, aggressive or violent behavior, severe dental problems, and weight loss.

How can a former drug lab/house still be dangerous? When certain ingredients are mixed or “cooked” to produce synthetic drugs, they generate a large amount of chemical waste. This waste is typically dumped down the drain, but may be stored, buried, or dumped elsewhere on the property. Surfaces in the residence may become contaminated with this waste and be corrosive. Further, the residue remains on surfaces, upholstery, and flooring both post-cooking and post-smoking. If these residues become disturbed, they can become airborne. If not properly decontaminated, residual wastes can remain on surfaces for years. This is why properties that are former synthetic drug labs are considered hazardous and should only be handled by hazardous waste professionals.

What are the health risks to new occupants of a former synthetic drug house that has not been properly decontaminated?

Adverse health effects are varied, and can include behavioral changes, respiratory illnesses, and skin related responses. Age and activities of the person exposed can influence the severity of the effects. Symptoms can include irritability, anxiety, sleeplessness, weight loss, a persistent cough, dizziness, difficulty in breathing, nausea, and throat, eye, and skin irritations. Occupants may not associate their symptoms with contamination in their home, and often investigate other environmental factors, such as mold, pests, vermin, allergies (e.g., hay fever), and contaminated water.

If you have any concerns about a home you are considering purchasing or have already purchased, be on the safe side and consult a professional. Here is more information on the Synthetic Drug Cleanup service provided by Paragon Environmental. The risks to the health of you and your family are too great to ignore.

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