The Danger of “Impure” Street Drugs

The Danger of “Impure” Street Drugs

In a recent episode of NBC’s hit show Chicago Fire, paramedics are called out in a violent snowstorm to attend to two teens under the influence of drugs and in peril. When they arrive at the scene, they find a severely frostbitten male who believes he’s covered in bugs and is tearing at his skin. He then informs them that his female companion had shed her jacket, despite the subzero temperatures, and wandered off into an abandoned warehouse. It’s later discovered that the marijuana the teens had bought and smoked was laced with phencyclidine (PCP).

This example highlights a danger that many people are unaware of: Illicit drugs bought on the street are commonly “impure” and have the ability to leave users with unexpected side effects in as little as one use. It’s often impossible to tell if a drug is what it’s said to be, how strong the dose actually is, or if it also contains another drug or substance to “help” its street value.

Street Drugs: What’s Really in Them?

No drug is safe from becoming impure. Here’s a breakdown of some of the top illicit street drugs and the impurities they may contain:

  • Ecstasy: One of the most common street drugs, MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine) — commonly referred to as ecstasy or molly — is easily disguised with other substances, leaving users blind to its potential side effects. The amount of pure ecstasy in each tablet often varies. Some may contain little or no MDMA and instead are composed of other drugs such as ketamine, amphetamine, caffeine and ephedrine.
  • Heroin: For the most part, heroin averages approximately 45% to 50% purity. The rest usually contains paracetamol, other opiate alkaloids, sugars, and in some cases methaqualone or diazepam. Fatal overdoses are also attributed to the varying purity of heroin.
  • Cocaine: The purity level of cocaine can range from 20% to 90%, with averages similar to that of heroin. Because it’s a drug often connected to heavy money-laundering, drug dealers are always on the lookout for ways to make the most money off the least amount of cocaine. This opens the door for mixing the white powder with other substances and greatly changing its effects.

No matter what kind or where they come from, abusing drugs is dangerous. Drug abuse can cause an array of negative side effects such as delirium, confusion, aggression, respiratory and cardiovascular problems, brain damage and even death. People seeking the perceived high from these substances are flirting with danger. But with proper treatment and support, the vicious cycle of drug abuse and its harmful consequences can be stopped.

By Jenna Mitchell

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