"Benzo Fury" Is Legal, But Ragingly Addictive
The popular synthetic club drug is as addictive as cocaine, researchers warn.
A party drug known as "Benzo Fury" is legal in Britain and the US, and easily purchased online, but researchers say it's just as addictive as many illegal drugs. Scientists at Britain's University of Roehampton used rats to analyze the effects of the drug and said it had hallucinogenic and stimulant effects that are similar to amphetamines and cocaine. 5-APB, the active ingredient in Benzo Fury, acts as both a stimulant and hallucinogen. "It's in the combination of these stimulant and hallucinogenic properties that the greatest danger lies," says Jolanta Opacka-Juffry, who led the study. This can damage brain receptors of the hormone serotonin; it can also constrict blood vessels, leading to high blood pressure. "Pure hallucinogens are not addictive as such because they do not cause an increase in dopamine release, unlike amphetamine or cocaine," explains Opacka-Juffry. "But Benzo Fury with its mixed properties is a trap as its repetitive use for the hallucinogenic effects could lead to dependence." The drug is typically bought online or sold at nightclubs for about $15 per pill. A report earlier this year from the United Nations International Narcotics Control Board said that a new "legal high" comes on to the market every week. "It's possible that the reason these drugs are so popular is because they are seen as safer than their illegal counterparts," Opacka-Juffry adds, "[so it's] important to challenge such assumptions."