By: Melissa Riddle Chalos
When you feel compelled to numb yourself emotionally or physically from the pain, pressure, and trauma of your life, finding a way to get high might be one of the fastest solutions you consider. Legal or illegal, THC abuse or addiction continues because, sometimes, it feels like the only way to survive.
There’s always someone nearby waiting to make a buck off of someone else’s pain. In the past, escapists sought unconventional, inexpensive means like bath salts and aerosol inhalants to get high. Remember when “spice” (K2), a psychoactive herb/synthetic marijuana, was just down the aisle from the Slurpee machine at your local convenience store? It really was, until states began making it illegal. But as one product is deemed dangerous, a whole new crop of similar “gas station drugs” appear at the checkout counter, promising to provide that mental and physical escape. Products like Delta 8, gummies, and other potentially dangerous substances are as easy to come by as a visit to the local gas station, convenience store, CBD shop or dab bar.
Gas Station Drugs
Today’s new drug trends are often marketed and sold as “natural” or “energy” supplements, when they are anything but natural and healthy. So what are some of the not-so-safe gas station drugs currently in vogue?
Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as delta-8 THC, is one of more than 100 cannabinoids produced naturally by the cannabis plant. But it is not a significant byproduct, so most Delta-8 is manufactured from hemp-derived cannabidiol/CBD. As such, it may seem like a fully approved, harmless hemp product, but there are risks involved. Delta-8 abuse is possible because it is an intoxicating psychoactive substance, unregulated, and therefore often created in unsanitary environments using harmful chemicals and contaminants.
Delta-8 abuse is possible because it is an intoxicating psychoactive substance, unregulated, and therefore often created in unsanitary environments using harmful chemicals and contaminants.
Delta-8 is marketed toward youth and young adults in a way that makes it seem natural like hemp. Children and pets are particularly at risk. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there has been an increase in adverse side effects involving Delta-8 abuse in recent years, including everything from hallucinations, vomiting, and tremors to anxiety, dizziness, confusion, and loss of consciousness.
- Dab Bars
Experienced marijuana consumers likely understand that a blunt or joint is still the cheapest and most accessible way to consume cannabis. But “dabbing” (using a byproduct or extract of the marijuana bud) provides a high concentration of THC for a faster, more potent high. Dabs come in a variety of extract forms descriptive of their appearance: shatter (breakable sheets), budder (like butter), crumble, wax, oil, etc. That more intense high will cost you, though, and in addition to the higher price, dabbing require a rig or vaporizer to consume, so it’s often done at a “dab bar.”
Research suggests that dabs can have a THC concentration of 80% compared to traditional cannabis’ concentration of roughly 10% to 15% THC, according to VeryWellMind.com. In fact, at a minimum, dabs are as much as four times stronger than a joint. This means the risk of THC abuse or overdose is much higher. Dabbing also comes with all the same negative side effects as dry cannabis use: increased anxiety, paranoia, impaired motor control, compromised lung and throat health, and interactions with certain medications.
- Gas Station Heroin
Tianeptine, commonly referred to as “gas station heroin,” has been used in low doses in antidepressants in other countries, but it is not FDA-approved in the US. This gas station drug, often labeled “Tianaa,” “Pegasus,” or “Za Za,” is marketed as a dietary supplement that is supposed to have cognition-boosting benefits. But tianeptine is an addictive substance that acts like an opioid, binding to opioid receptors in the brain, with potentially fatal results, reports CBS’s The Doctors. Tianeptine can cause psychosis, psychological distress, increased blood pressure and heart rate, decreased respiratory rate, and heart arrhythmia.
You’ve likely seen a waving flag advertisement that reads, “Kratom sold here,” on a street near a local vape or CBD shop. Typically in powder form for smoking, ground leaves for brewing, or in gel caps, it’s as easy to get as Vitamin C. In some states, you can even get it in vending machines or in drinks at a local bar.
But kratom is not just another friendly herb that offers a caffeine-like stimulant, according to Consumer Reports. Kratom is a tree native to Southeast Asia, the leaves of which have been used for pain-relief for centuries. Oh, and did we mention it’s considered a compound opioid by the FDA? Kratom is often intentionally mixed with other opioids like tramadol or hydrocodone to boost potency and addictive properties that will ensure repeat sales. It is dangerous when mixed with other chemicals or when taken in combination with other medications, and over time it can be as addictive as opioids. It’s no wonder Thailand, where the Kratom tree originated, banned it decades ago.
Kratom is often intentionally mixed with other opioids like tramadol or hydrocodone to boost potency and addictive properties that will ensure repeat sales.
With so many unregulated, seemingly natural and healthy products available at low cost and around every corner, more and more users are being reeled in. THC abusers are drawn further in toward addiction. Not to mention people in recovery are regularly confronted with an abundance of these new “harmless” options that threaten their sobriety.
At The Meadows Texas, we offer a path out of drug and alcohol addiction and mental health conditions with treatment that gives you real solutions and tools to help you cut through all the noise and distractions of our culture. Reach out today to learn how you can find your way.