Naturally Occurring and Synthetic Drugs of Abuse

A growing “natural” foods and medical products trend in the United States is giving rise to similar attitudes about drugs and alcohol. For instance, consider the number of natural tobacco products and low-calorie alcoholic beverages that have come about in recent years. While they might not have the same exact chemical compounds as their “less healthy” forerunners, the results are generally the same; tobacco leads to addiction and regular consumption of booze often leads to alcoholism. This is true regardless of whether the product is marketed as “natural” or not. The same is also true of more dangerous street drugs.

The idea that natural drugs – meaning those that aren’t synthesized in a laboratory – are somehow less dangerous or addictive than regular street drugs is spreading across the nation. Many people wrongly assume that natural drugs are better for your health and pose less overall risk than synthesized drugs. Natural drugs include the following:

  • Opium – derived from the scoring and collection of secretions from an unripe poppy plant pod, opium has been used recreationally and medically for thousands of years. Opium provides the main ingredient for the vast majority of pharmaceutical pain medicines such as Vicodin, Percocet and others.
  • Marijuana – found in abundance all over the world, naturally occurring marijuana is the most-used illicit substance.
  • Mushrooms – a number of mushrooms exist that cause powerful hallucinations and altered states of consciousness.
  • Peyote – a cactus used since ancient times for spiritual purposes, this common desert plant is legal for use by certain people:
    • “Both mescaline and Peyote are illegal under the statutes of the ment long before these laws came into existence. Members are not permitted to use mescaline, however.” (1)
  • Coca – this South American plant was used by early Mayans for energy during hunting, prowess on the battlefield, for recreational purposes, spiritual quests and even just for a quick “pick me up.”

New drug use trends incorrectly propose that natural drugs are healthier for you, therefore even if they cause addiction you’ll still be better off than if you use synthesized drugs:

  • Morphine, Heroin, Methadone, Fentanyl, and more – these drugs are all synthesized from opium. Synthesizing the drugs means that the active chemical ingredients are isolated and extracted. This allows dosing to be very precise, thereby reducing the risk of overdose or severe reactions.
  • LSD – Like the opiates, LSD is synthesized from a naturally occurring plant –a fungus that grows on wheat, corn, rye and other grains.
  • Cocaine – synthesized from the coca plant, cocaine has been one of the most popular drugs in the world for many decades. In fact, the drug was once widely hailed as a promising treatment of a number of disorders and conditions and enjoyed esteem among some of the world’s most prominent people, including Sigmund Freud, who admitted to using the drug regularly. (2)

But despite the seeming differences in chemical composition and extraction or use methods, the risks of drugs are the same regardless of whether they are consumed in a natural or synthesized state. All of these substances are addictive and can lead to severe consequences. There is no evidence to suggest that abusing “natural” drugs is any less dangerous or better for your health that drugs that are manufactured in a laboratory.

Whatever the drug may be, if you’re struggling with an addiction, treatment is the same for everyone and includes inpatient treatment, day/night programs and outpatient treatment. To learn which one is right for you, please call the number at the top of your screen now for a free, confidential consultation. You’ve got nothing to lose and the rest of your life to gain. Call us now.

Recovery First offers a comprehensive inpatient addiction treatment program in Florida. American Addiction Centers, Recovery First’s parent company, also has rehab facilities across the United States. Call us to learn more about finding treatment near you.


(1) Gottlieb, Adam Peyote and Other Psychoactive Cacti The Vaults of Erowid
Accessed 10/20/2011

(2) Scribd Total Synthesis of Cocaine

Accessed 10/20/2011

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