Drugs & Health Blog

How Dangerous Are Synthetic Drugs? Test Your Knowledge

©Shutterstock/Alex_Traksel

The NIDA Blog Team

Did you know that most drugs—including the ones that help people—are “synthetic”? That means they’re made in labs, not in nature.

Synthetic drugs prescribed by doctors are safe when they’re used as directed. But illegal synthetic drugs are a different story. Take this quiz to learn more about synthetic drugs. Answers are listed after the questions.

1. Which of the following drugs are synthetic?

a. K2/Spice
b. Bath salts
c. Fentanyl
d. MDMA (Molly or Ecstasy)
e. All of the above

2. What's another name for synthetic cannabinoids? 

a. Molly
b. Medical marijuana
c. K2/Spice
d. Cannabis

3. Which one of these synthetic drugs is responsible for nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths?

a. Bath salts
b. K2/Spice
c. MDMA (Molly or Ecstasy)
d. Fentanyl

4. One reason illegal synthetic drugs are dangerous is that they often have added chemicals that make them more _________.

a. Toxic
b. Untraceable
c. Affordable
d. Flavorful

Answers:

  1. E. All of these drugs are often made illegally in laboratories.
  2. C. Synthetic cannabinoids, also called K2 or Spice (or sometimes herbal incense), are either sprayed on dried plant material so they can be smoked, or sold as liquids for use in e-cigarettes and other devices. Because synthetic cannabinoids often act on the same brain cell receptors as marijuana, some people call them “fake weed,” but they can affect the brain differently and more powerfully than marijuana does.
  3. D. Fentanyl is a powerful opioid prescribed for extreme pain. In 2016, 19,413 overdoses involved fentanyl, which is almost 46 percent of all opioid overdose deaths. This is a large increase from 2010, when only 3,007 overdoses (14.3 percent) involved fentanyl. A lot of drug dealers are adding fentanyl to other drugs (because it’s cheap), and many people don’t even know they’re using it.
  4. A. Toxic. Makers of illegal synthetics often add chemicals to make the drugs more powerful. This can make them more dangerous or toxic, too, because there’s no way to know what chemicals the drugs contain or in what amounts. In fact, the drug Molly has a reputation for containing few (if any!) of the chemicals it’s “advertised” to contain.
Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.

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