Drug addiction is a chronic disease that affects the brain and causes habitual drug seeking despite its harmful effects to a drug user. It is considered as a disease because it has the ability to alter brain structure and function. In this article, we will discuss the synthetic drug 2C-B, why it is abused, how dangerous it is, and what you can do to help someone addicted to it.
The Drug Abuse Scenario
For the past 50 years, a lot of controlled substances have become very popular among individuals who use them as recreational drugs. Illicit drug use in the United States has been increasing. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), due to substance abuse, the government spends more than $700M due to related crimes, health care and lost work productivity.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows an increasing incidence of drug use as well as how children as young as 12 years old have already been hooked in illicit substances. It is a frightening reality that no matter how much effort the government has exerted against illegal substance use, the number of users continues to increase every year.
Among the common controlled substances are designer drugs, which are made to mimic the effects of illegal substances to get away from prosecution. These substances are inexpensive alternatives to oft-abused drugs.
What is 2C-B?
2C-B is a psychedelic drug that comes from the 2C family. 2C is a general name referring to the family of psychedelic phenethylamines that contains the methoxy groups on 2 and 5 positions of the benzene ring.
The substance was first synthesized by American chemist Alexander Shulgin in 1974. He was also known to have synthesized more than 150 drugs, most of which are hallucinogens.
2C-B is sold in the form of a white powder, and is sometimes pressed into tablets or gel capsules. Its street names include:
- Afterburner Bromo
- Cloud Nine
Law enforcement authorities have been able to seize various forms of 2C-B such as:
- Pink, red or purple pills
- Small, off-white, thick pills with a bullhead logo stamp
- Off-white pills with brown specks
- Clear, yellow or gray and blue capsules
Its drug classification is Schedule I since 1995. This substance is taken orally, vaporized or insufflated. Its effect is said to be more intense when snorted. Some users, however, consume 2C-B along with other illicit drugs like MDMA and LSD.
This is an illegal and dangerous drug that is becoming a huge concern not only in the US, but also in other countries. It was in 2004 when it started to appear on the streets as a red pill or orange powder.
Usual doses are 12-24 mg, and the effect lasts for a period between 4-8 hours.
History of 2C-B
It was in the 1970s when 2C-B was introduced to psychotherapists in the United States. It was later manufactured by a German company under the trade name Nexus. It was developed as a treatment for frigidity and impotence.
Thereafter, several other pharmaceutical companies marketed it under the names Performax and Eros. The U.S. became the largest market for 2C-B, which can be bought without prescription when it first arrived in local stores.
It was in 1993 when drug authorities were alarmed on how 2C-B has become a favorite among teens and young adults who frequented clubs and rave parties. Since it was not an illegal substance that time, it can be bought at video stores and head shops, nightclubs and bars. The drug was sold between $17-$25 per capsule.
Despite not being among the controlled substance during that time, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) ordered the closure of manufacturing laboratories in California and Arizona.
It was in June 5, 1995 when 2C-B was placed under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. It was placed under this category because it has been proven to have no medical use and has a high risk for abuse. It is currently banned in other countries such as Canada, France, Japan, Netherlands, Sweden, South Africa, and the U.K.
Why is 2C-B being abused?
2C-B is commonly abused by teens and young adults who regularly go to raves, concerts and music festivals. It is commonly taken with other designer drugs or club drugs such as GHB, ecstasy, ketamine, LSD and methamphetamine.
According to the DEA, there is a significant increase in usage of this substance in the United States. This substance is already popular in Germany, South Africa, Switzerland and the Netherlands, where much of the supply comes from.
Like the other mentioned club drugs, 2C-B produces several positive effects that club goers are after, such as:
- Feeling of empathy
- Enhanced visual perception
- Closed and open-eye visuals
- Feelings of insight
- Increased giggling
- Mental and physical stimulation
- Increased access to spiritual ideation
The analgesic effect experienced in most psychedelic drugs is not present with 2C-B. However, users claim to feel heightened body awareness, and increased consciousness of both physical health and energy. According to Shulgin as published in an online resource, using 2C-B is a “superb tool for learning and growth”.
Individuals who snort 2C-B have been reported to experience extreme pain in their nasal passages and sinuses, which can last up to 30 minutes after ingestion. Oral ingestion, on the other hand, may also result to increased mucus production, which may eventually lead to cough and gastrointestinal distress.
Danger of 2C-B Use
Since 2000, there have been large quantities of this drug seized in different parts of the United States.
The effect of 2C-B has been found to be a cross between the effects of MDMA and LSD. It is mildly psychedelic but may result to a psychological disorder with higher doses. The effects are unpredictable, and may even make a user more violent than usual.
When 2C-B has been used for a longer period of time and in higher doses, it may result to the following symptoms:
- Fear and panic
- Muscle twitching
- Difficulty concentrating
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Unwanted and overwhelming feelings
- Unpleasant visions
At low doses of 4-6 mg, it may give a relaxing effect to the user. At higher doses of 30 mg, 2C-B is extremely hallucinogenic and can be frightening. The effect may last up to 12 hours.
2C-B is believed to be 10 times more potent than MDMA (ecstasy).
The drug works by distorting the normal functions of the brain, whereby people under the influence of this substance may experience intense emotional swings. Hearing, vision and tactile sensations may also be altered.
Ingesting 8-10 mg of 2C-B may cause a stimulating effect and lead to an intoxicated state.
It is highly not advisable for individuals who are on monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) anti-depressants. Individuals who may be suffering from depression or psychosis may experience psychotic syndrome, panic attacks, visual illusions and depersonalization.
Long-term regular use may result to extended feelings of fatigue, anxiety and disorientation.
Here are the effects of 2C-B in different stages:
- Onset: 20-90 minutes
- Coming up: 15-30 minutes
- Plateau: 2-3 hours
- Coming down: 2 hours
- After effects: 2-4 hours
Signs and Symptoms of 2C-B use
As earlier mentioned, 2C-B use may produce positive effects, which cause some people to consciously engage into this kind of drug. However, it may also present other signs and symptoms like:
- Change in body temperature regulation
- Pupil dilation
- Decreased appetite
- Change in perception of time
- Unusual thoughts and speech
- General change in consciousness
- Flushing, chills
These symptoms may be experienced even at low doses. Some of these signs may last up to 6 hours and then drop off dramatically. The user may immediately feel an instant mood swing as soon as the effect wears off.
Detection and Testing for 2C-B Use
The Marquis reagent is a presumptive test for amphetamine-type compounds, MDMA and opium alkaloid, and can also be able to detect 2C-B. Positive result from the test will produce a bright green color. Originally, this reagent was designed to test for the mentioned drugs, which can be identified according to the color result such as:
- Orange to purple: Positive for heroin
- Black: Positive for MDMA
- Orange to brown: Positive for amphetamine or methamphetamine
Despite the availability of drug testing methods and home testing kits, authorities pose concern with regards to the distribution of 2C-B as it is consistently expanding. The emergence of 2C-B throughout the United States suggests that it is again being sold to the existing wide network of MDMA users.
Treatment for 2C-B Use
Since 2C-B produces similar effects as MDMA, the proper management of individuals who have been found to become highly dependent on 2C-B follows the same treatment as with MDMA users. The treatment can take place as either in-patient or out-patient. However, it is best recommended to have the user admitted in an institution so that his health may be monitored better.
Medication such as serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) may be helpful in addressing 2C-B addiction.
Withdrawal symptoms from 2C-B use may most likely be the same as withdrawal from ecstasy such as:
- Loss of appetite
- Mood swings
With these symptoms present, it is likely that a user may become violent, which may lead to hurting others or himself. When this happens, minor sedation may be appropriate to help the patient to calm down. Treatment may last from a few weeks to several months.
Apart from this, psychological counseling may also be needed because with prolonged use of the drug, it could have affected the normal functions of the brain. As a result, this may need months of psychological reconstruction.
Even after the patient has been discharged, an after-care program that includes sessions with family members and loved ones should continue. This is very helpful for the complete recovery of the patient and to prevent from having a relapse.
There have been no reported fatalities associated with 2C-B use, but it is something that we should not rejoice about. It is still best to become more vigilant with the things around us and to report suspicious personalities or activities to the authorities.