Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Common menu bar links

Illegal Synthetic Drugs

Illegal synthetic drugs refer to drugs that are man-made, often designed to mimic the effects of other illegal drugs. Most are created by mixing common and/or illegal substances in specific doses.

Bath Salts

"Bath Salts"

“Bath Salts” is the name used for a group of substances that contain amphetamine-type properties (such as either methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) or mephedrone) in addition to substances that contain stimulant-type properties (such as pyrovalerone and methylone) and/or high levels of caffeine. These mixtures are commonly referred to as “bath salts” because they often look like sugar or regular bath salts; however, they definitely are not the common bath salts that are sold at the local aromatherapy or beauty product store. Because bath salts are a mixture of several drugs, there’s no way to know exactly what is in them – which can make them very dangerous, and even lethal in some cases. Users typically swallow (tablets), snort, smoke or inject bath salts, and experience effects similar to the kind of high users get using amphetamines.

Name Effects How to Tell if Someone has been Using

Bath Salts

Street Names: Bath powder, drone, MCAT, vanilla sky, blue magic

Forms: Crystalline powder, capsules, tablets

Type: Stimulant and/or hallucinogen

Shortness of breath, blurry vision, tremors, hyperthermia, excitement, extreme agitation, seizures, convulsions, hallucinations, psychosis, Rapid heartbeat, High blood pressure.

  • Unusual body odour
  • Fever
  • Profuse sweating
  • Skin rashes/skin infections
  • Irritation/bleeding of the nose, mouth or throat
  • Muscle twitching

Sources: Healthy Canadians – “Bath Salts”



Known as the “rave drug,” ecstasy is a man-made drug that is produced in illegal labs and has similar components to amphetamines. MDMA is the abbreviation of its scientific name, and refers to the pure form of the drug. Ecstasy however, is usually MDMA that is cut (mixed) with other substances such as caffeine, meth, LSD and even soap or detergent. Someone who buys ecstasy pills never knows what they are really buying or ingesting. Though it can be found in the form of powder and capsules, ecstasy is usually a small tablet. These tablets may have different logos and colours.

Name How it Works Effects How to Tell if Someone has been Using


Street Names: E, XTC, X, Pill, Peanut, Ecstasy, Dove, Love Drug, M&M

Forms: Tablets with various logos and colours

Type: Stimulant and/or hallucinogen

It is absorbed into the bloodstream and travels to the brain, where it causes the release several neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine) which produce the effects felt by the user.  The effects of a single dose may last for three to six hours.

Euphoria, increased alertness, teeth grinding and jaw pain, anxiety, nausea and vomiting, dehydration, heightening of emotions and sensory perceptions, loss of inhibitions, hallucinations, increased blood pressure and heart rate.

  • Muscle tension
  • Involuntary teeth  chattering
  • Rapid blinking of eyes
  • Dilated pupils
  • Hyperthermia
  • Confusion

Sources: Healthy Canadians – Ecstasy, RCMP Drug Identification Chart

GHB  and Rohypnol

GHB  and Rohypnol

Although, the media often refers to GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate) and rhohypnol as “date-rape” drugs, they are also used for recreational purposes.

GHB is a natural substance found in the human body in a very small quantity; however, GHB sold on the street is made in illegal laboratories and acts as a depressant on the central nervous system. It is taken orally, normally mixed in with beverages, most often alcohol. The effects can be felt as soon as 10 to 20 minutes after ingesting it and can last up to 4 hours.

Rohypnol is a very strong sedative that is illegal in North America, but used in some European countries to treat insomnia and anxiety.

Name How it Works Effects How to Tell if Someone has been Using


Street Names: GH, Juice, Liquid Ecstasy, Date Rape Drug

Forms: Colourless, odorless liquid, capsule or powder

Type: Depressant


Street Names:
Roofies, Rope, The forget pill

Forms: Tablet, powder

Type: Sedative

GHB enters your blood, travels to your brain and acts as a depressor. It causes your muscles to relax and in high doses, it can cause amnesia and you may lose your ability to move.

Rohypnol travels through the bloodstream and affects the brain by relaxing the muscles, causing amnesia and drowsiness.

Dizziness, memory loss, confusion, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of consciousness, decreased heart rate

  • Drowsiness
  • Unconsciousness (in and out)
  • Slow movements
  • Lowered body temperature

Sources: Healthy Canadians – GHB, Alberta Health Services - Rohypnol, RCMP Drug Identification Chart



Ketamine is part of the hallucinogen drug family, which means it affects people’s perception of reality. The drug creates a sense of detachment and dissociation as if one’s mind was separate from their body. While Ketamine is mostly used for recreational purposes, it has also been related to drug-induced sexual assault cases.

Name How it Works Effects How to Tell if Someone has been Using


Street Names: Special K, Vitamin K, Ket, Ketty

Forms: Liquid, powder, tablets

Type: Hallucinogen

Ketamine travels through the bloodstream to the brain. There, it affects the neurotransmitter (brain chemical) glutamate, which impairs memory, learning, the perception of pain and responses to the environment.

Drunken/dizzy feeling, confusion, memory loss, loss of coordination, inability to speak, decreased response to pain, confusion, nausea and vomiting.

Some people experience “near death” or “out-of-body” sensations, and this is referred to as “going through the k-hole”.

  • Insensitivity to pain
  • Difficulty reasoning
  • Coordination problems
  • Slurred speech

Sources: Healthy Canadians - Ketamine, RCMP Drug Identification Chart



LSD and PCP - PCP (Phencyclidine) and LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide) are both hallucinogen drugs. PCP is 100% made of chemical substances and is only produced in drug laboratories, while LSD is a semi-synthetic drug, as it derives from fungus (Healthy Canadians).

Name How it Works Effects How to Tell if Someone has been Using

LSD (Acid)

Street Names: Acid, Acid Cap, Blotter, Micro, Microdots, Bull’s Eye

Forms: Tablets, blotting paper

Type: Hallucinogen

LSD enters all tissues of the body including the brain. The effects of LSD are felt gradually within 30-60 minutes, peak within 2 to 4 hours and gradually diminish within 10-12 hours.

Effects vary individually. They can range from a sense of joy/well-being to fear, panic aggression and severe anxiety. One can also experience “pseudo-hallucinations” (user is aware the hallucination is not real).

  • Excitable
  • Wild-eyed
  • Dilated pupils
  • Hallucinations



Street Names: Horse, Angel Dust, TH, Peace Pill, Crazy Eddie, Killer Weed (when mixed with pot), Space Base (when mixed with crack)

Forms: Powder, tablets

Type: Hallucinogen

PCP travels through the bloodstream to the brain, where it affects the neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) glutamate and dopamine.  Glutamate affects memory, learning, and the perception of pain.

Drowsiness, impaired coordination, blurred vision, distortion of time/space, detachment from the environment and reality and increased heart

  • Increased physical strength
  • Increased breathing rates
  • Insensitive to pain
  • Completely confused
  • Wild-eyed

Sources: Healthy Canadians – LSD, Healthy Canadians – PCP, RCMP Drug Identification Chart



Methamphetamines are a type of stimulant, which means it increases a user's energy level. There are legal and illegal types of amphetamines. An example of a legal methamphetamine is Ritalin, while Meth is an illegal type of methamphetamine (Parlons Drogue).

Name How it Works Effects How to Tell if Someone has been Using

Meth (Methamphetamine)

Street Names: Crystal Meth, Ice, Crank, Speed, Chalk, Pep Pill

Forms: Powder, crystals, tablets

Type: Stimulant

It travels to the brain through the bloodstream. Once in the brain, it causes the release of a chemical that is responsible for “pleasure”, which explains the “high” created by the drug.

Euphoria, increased alertness of mind, excessively talkative, decreased appetite, dry mouth, teeth grinding, muscle shaking, paranoia, anxiety, hallucinations, difficulty sleeping and increased heart rate.

  • Increased breathing rate
  • Dry mouth
  • Dilated pupils
  • Blurred vision
  • Quickened vital signs
  • Restlessness
  • Tremors
  • “Tweaking”

Sources:Healthy Canadians – Methamphetamine, RCMP Drug Identification Chart



“Spice” (also known as synthetic cannabinoids) does not contain any real marijuana.  It refers to a mix of herbs sprayed with man-made compounds that mimic the effects of marijuana. Different mixes of "spice" exist, and the exact ingredients of these blends vary and are not indicated on the product wrapping.

Name Effects How to Tell if Someone has been Using


Street Names: Synthetic Marijuana, Hayze Spice, Herb Dream, Herbal Potpourri, Krypto Buds, Cloud 9

Forms: mix of herbs sprayed with man-made compounds that mimic the effects of marijuana

Type: Hallucinogen

Nausea and vomiting, dizziness, extreme anxiety, agitation and panic attacks, euphoria, unrealistic fears, altered sense of time and space, confusion, insomnia, short-term memory loss, increased heart rate convulsions, seizures, suicide.

  • Shortness of breath
  • High blood pressure
  • Chest pain
  • Dry mouth

Sources:Healthy Canadians – “Spice”, RCMP Drug Identification Chart

Tolerance and Withdrawal

Chronic users of some illegal synthetic drugs can build up a tolerance. In other words, their body becomes used to the drug and it requires a larger dose to achieve the same effects. As with many other drugs, a sudden stop in the use of the drug after a long period of use can cause the individual to experience withdrawal symptoms.  Withdrawal symptoms differ depending on the drug and how long the individual has been using. They can range from nausea/vomiting, to depression, insomnia, loss of appetite, weight loss, seizures, anxiety, tremors and muscle/bone pain.  For more information on withdrawal symptoms for specific drugs, visit:


Synthetic drugs fall under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. This Act includes the sentencing and fines for each category of offense (selling, production, use, etc.) in accordance with each type of drug.

What You Can Do


If someone is asking you to try drugs, you can:

  • Respond with humor – say you don’t want to end up like “insert the latest celebrity to get arrested for a drug-related offence.”
  • Reference a health issue that may worsen (such as asthma or bronchitis).
  • Respond that real friends don’t make you do things you don’t want to.
  • Make up an excuse that you need to go, or that you have something to do tomorrow, so you don’t want to feel like garbage.
  • If you are really being pressured, focus on the things that mean a lot to you. Ask yourself how this decision could impact your life (in terms of getting into the college/university/apprenticeship you want, making the sports team you are trying out for, staying in the school band/other clubs, your relationship with your girlfriend/boyfriend or your parents etc.). Tell them that you would rather focus on those things than drugs. 

It’s never easy to deal with pressure to try drugs. If your friends won’t drop the issue, you may want to consider trying to find a new group; one that has similar interests to you. For more tips on how to deal with the pressure to try drugs, visit the National Anti-Drug Strategy Website.

If you are worried that you or someone you know may be addicted to a drug or are currently abusing substances:

Talk to a school guidance counsellor, doctor, health care professional or a parent. If you do not feel comfortable talking with any of them, call the Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868), a completely free and confidential resource for youth. Or, to find services available in your province/territory, check out: DrugsNot4me.