4 Commonly Abused Research Chemicals

There is a difference between research chemicals used in scientific research and research chemicals used to get high. The latter are developed in a lab and are meant to mimic the effects of other commonly misused drugs like opioids, cocaine, and marijuana. These substances tend to be cheap to make and to purchase, and produce more intense highs.

Research chemicals (also known as designer drugs) are poorly understood in the context of substance abuse, and are therefore very dangerous. The recipes are unregulated and often tweaked to avoid the law, so potency and ingredients can vary greatly.

Below are a few examples of commonly abused research chemicals:

2C Class Drugs

2C class substances include drugs like 2C-I, 2C-B, and 2C-E – all powerful psychedelic drugs that cause hallucinogenic and stimulant effects in users. The drugs were first synthesized by Alexander Shulgin, the same person who first suggested the idea of using MDMA for medical purposes.

Just like any drug, the use of any 2C class drug has the potential for overdose, addiction, and adverse health risks. In fact, since they’re fairly uncommon, many people aren’t certain of appropriate doses and may carry a higher risk of overdose than most drugs.

Synthetic Cannabinoids

These designer drugs are meant to mimic the effects of marijuana and are often sold as “incense” and labelled as “not for human consumption”. Common synthetic cannabinoids include spice and K2.

While these drugs produce relaxing feelings just like organic marijuana, they can also be unpredictable and lead to overdose. Users have been hospitalized for symptoms like heart attacks, intense hallucinations, psychosis, and more.


Tryptamines are a group of synthetic psychedelic drugs that includes drugs like LSD, DMT, and psilocybin, as well as newer, less well-known drugs like 4-HO-MET, 2C-I, and TMA-2. These drugs are typically not addictive but can lead to tolerance.

Effects of synthetic tryptamine highs are often more intense than most other hallucinogens and include paranoia and psychosis. Some may also produce effects like sweating, vomiting, and heart problems.


Synthetic opioids are designer drugs meant to mimic the effects of the seeds from a plant called the opium poppy. As the opioid crisis grows, these drugs, especially fentanyl, are becoming more and more popular to abuse.

These drugs are highly addictive and already tend to be very strong. When untested and unregulated versions hit the market, the potential for overdose only grows.

All in all, while research chemical addiction rates vary by type of drug, every research chemical is extremely dangerous – the risk of overdosing and adverse health effects are high. If you’re concerned that someone you love may be abusing any of these or other research chemicals, it’s important to help them seek treatment.

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