Abuse of the Drug Smiles

It goes by the street name “Smiles,” but the side effects of abuse of the drug smiles, a psychedelic designer drug, are anything but humorous.

Abuse of the Drug Smiles

Like Ecstasy, bath salts, and incense, Smiles (also known as 2C-I) is a synthetic street drug that has become popular among teens. The drug is available at clubs, raves, and bars. But, high school and college students also use it outside of the club scene.

With so many new designer drugs hitting the streets, many parents feel that they can’t keep up with the latest threats. Educating yourself about Smiles and other dangerous substances is the best way to start protecting your teen.

If you’re a teenager who’s faced with the choice to try a new designer drug, consider these serious risks:

  • The production of Smiles is unregulated, which means that you can’t be sure how strong each batch is or whether it contains any dangerous chemical toxins.
  • Because Smiles is a new drug, its short-term and long-term side effects are still largely unknown.
  • Using Smiles and other designer drugs can lead to arrest and other legal problems.
  • The use of hallucinogenic drugs increases your risk of motor vehicle accidents, unsafe sex and accidental injuries.

What Is Smiles?

The chemical name of 2C-I/Smiles is 4-iodo-dimethoxyphenethylamine. The drug is produced for recreational purposes and has no legitimate medical use. As of 2012, 2C-I is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance by the federal government, which means that manufacturing, possessing, distributing or using the drug is illegal.

Smiles is a psychoactive drug that affects your feelings, perceptions and emotions.

The effects of Smiles are usually felt within an hour after taking the drug and may last for eight to 12 hours or more. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) warns that because it may take up to 60 minutes to feel the desired effects, users can get impatient and overdose in an attempt to make up for the delay.

How Is Smiles Abused?

Smiles is sold as a soft white powder that resembles powdered sugar. The drug is also available as a liquid. It can be snorted, injected, taken orally in tablet or capsule form, or blended with alcohol or candy. In the club scene, Smiles is often blended into alcoholic beverages or taken with other illegal drugs, increasing the risk of a dangerous reaction. The drug can be purchased at bars, nightclubs and underground parties or through street dealers. Curious teens can even find the drug being sold “for research purposes” on the Internet.

The addictive potential of Smiles is still unknown, but users who take this psychoactive drug on a regular basis may become dependent on its effects. Ecstasy, or MDMA, a drug that has been compared to Smiles, is addictive to some users.

Signs of Drug Dependence

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a survey of teens and young adults who took Ecstasy regularly showed that almost half of them had signs of dependence on the drug, including:
  • Tolerance, or the need to take larger doses to get the same effects
  • Physical or psychological withdrawal symptoms when they stopped using the drug
  • Persistence in using the drug, even though they were aware of its dangers
  • Inability to quit using the drug, in spite of attempts to get clean

Abusing any drug can have devastating effects on your physical health, your personal life and your future. If you’re feeling pressured to use a drug that you’ve never tried before, or you’re curious about how a substance might affect you, think carefully about the risks. It only takes a single use of a dangerous underground drug to experience its life-threatening side effects.

What Are the Dangers of Smiles?

As the drug makes its way across the country, Smiles has been associated with at least three deaths and a number of overdoses, according to WISH-TV in Indiana. In order to circumvent federal restrictions against the drug, manufacturers of this illegal product are always adjusting its chemical formula. The version of Smiles that’s sold on the streets or in nightclubs today may be completely different than the version that’s sold tomorrow, which means that you can never be sure of exactly what you’re getting.

But the undesired effects of 2C-I can range from unpleasant to fatal:
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Hyperventilation
  • Muscle spasms
  • Kidney failure
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Death

Smiles can generate feelings of closeness, giddiness and joy, but the drug can make some users experience hostility, aggression and self-destructive impulses. When you’re dealing with a drug like Smiles, whose effects largely remain a mystery, you’re literally taking your life in your hands each time you give in to the temptation to use it.

How Do I Protect My Teen?

Many parents feel scared and helpless when they think about designer drugs like Smiles. Even in small American communities, this dangerous psychedelic drug has threatened the lives of teenagers. What can you do to protect your teen at a time when designer drugs have become so widely available?

  • Stay informed about the latest drugs. Smiles is only one of the many designer drugs on the market. You can learn a lot by keeping up with the news and talking with teachers and school counselors.
  • Talk to your kids. It might seem like a simple tip, but talking honestly to your teens about drugs may save their lives. Keep the conversation objective and nonjudgmental, and let your teens know that you’ll always be there to help.
  • Get to know your teen’s friends. If your high school student suddenly drops her favorite friends and starts to hang out with a new crowd, make sure you know who her new “friends” are.
  • Watch for changes in behavior. Psychedelic drugs can cause irritability, mood swings, aggression, fatigue and other changes in the way your teen behaves. Therefore, a teenager who’s using drugs may show a sudden decline in her performance at school.
  • Keep an eye on online activity. Synthetic designer drugs are sold on the Internet as “research drugs” that are “not intended for human consumption” in order to skirt federal laws. Know what your teen is buying online.
  • Be consistent about rules. Teenagers naturally rebel against rules, but at the same time, they need a sense of structure and security. Make sure your teens understand your expectations about their activities and curfews, and that you reinforce household rules if necessary.

Getting Help When You Need It

No matter how hard you work to protect your teen, it’s not always possible to keep him or her completely safe. At Newport Academy, we offer fully integrated, comprehensive addiction treatment plans that are tailored to the needs of our young clients. From individual counseling to family sessions and holistic therapies, our programs cover all aspects of a teenager’s life.

If your teen has gotten involved with designer drugs, alcohol or prescription medications, call us for a confidential consultation to start the recovery process today.

Photo courtesy of mediaphotos for istock.