Is "Annihilation" Upon Us?
The latest snappily-named synthetic drug is blamed for at least nine hospitalizations.
It's like a game of whack-a-mole: every time the law cracks down on one synthetic drug, street chemists seem to bounce back with a new strain. The latest of these "legal highs," known as "Annihilation," has been banned in the UK after landing nine people in the hospital there in the last three months. "This is a catch-up exercise. It is an example of how fast-moving this field is," says Professor Les Iversen, the chairman of the British government's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD). "In three years' time we shall need to do something similar again." Authorities claim this "particularly potent" new synthetic cannabinoid, which imitates the effects of marijuana, can induce a range of horrors, including: paranoia, aggression, increased heart rate, unconsciousness, self-harming and numbness of the legs that causes users to fall down. Some researchers disagree, saying the stuff is weak at normal doses; however, since the drug causes such a slight buzz at first, users may be at a heightened risk of accidental overdose. Like other "designer" drugs like "bath salts," "spice" and "smiles"—all of which have been banned in the US—Annihilation's hazardousness relates to its unpredictability. Treatment expert Dr. Harris Straytener has cautioned that consuming such untested, unregulated compounds not authorized for human consumption is "like playing Russian roulette," likening it to ingesting "arsenic or rat poison."