Baumann, M. H., Solis, E., Watterson, L. R., Marusich, J. A., Fantegrossi, W. E., & Wiley, J. L. (2014). Baths salts, spice, and related designer drugs: The science behind the headlines. Journal of Neuroscience, 34(46), 15150-15158. https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3223-14.2014
The abuse of synthetic psychoactive substances known as "designer drugs," or " new psychoactive substances" (NPS), is increasing at an alarming rate. NPS are purchased as alternatives to traditional illicit drugs of abuse and are manufactured to circumvent laws regulating the sale and use of controlled substances. Synthetic cathinones (i.e., "bath salts") and synthetic cannabinoids (i.e., "spice") are two types of NPS that have received substantial media attention. Although low recreational doses of bath salts or spice compounds can produce desirable effects, high doses or chronic exposure often leads to dangerous medical consequences, including psychosis, violent behaviors, tachycardia, hyperthermia, and even death. Despite the popularity of NPS, there is a paucity of scientific data about these drugs. Here we provide a brief up-to-date review describing the mechanisms of action and neurobiological effects of synthetic cathinones and cannabinoids.