What Is The Deadly New Designer Drug: “Smiles”?
Smiles is the street name for 2C-I, a potent synthetic hallucinogen that has psychedelic-like effects when ingested. Smiles belongs to the 2C family of compounds which includes another popular synthetic, 2C-B. This class of drugs is closely related to amphetamines, including methamphetamine. Smiles is often sold as a fine white powder or tablet, and is also mixed into candies. It can be snorted, smoked or eaten.
History And Distribution Of 2C-I
2C-I was first synthesized in the 1990s by chemist Alexander Shulgin, who is well known for synthesizing many other popular drugs. Smiles appeared as early as the early 2000’s in the Netherlands as a then-legal alternative to 2C-B, which had just been banned. Smiles was banned shortly after, in 2008, along with other 2C drugs.
The U.S. classified 2C-I as a Schedule I substance (meaning “no accepted medical value” and “high potential for abuse”) in 2012, making it illegal to make, distribute or possess.
The Dangerous Effects Of 2C-I
Some compare 2C-I’s effects to a very potent dose of LSD (acid) or MDMA (Molly) because of hallucinations and a feeling of euphoria. This drug, however, appears to be much more dangerous. Side effects include the following:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle spasms
- Raised blood pressure
- Kidney failure
What Are The Dangers Of 2C-I?
Unlike the more common hallucinogens, such as LSD and psilocybin (magic mushrooms), which typically do not cause overdoses, 2C-I may cause severe bodily harm, even at small doses. The white powder form of 2C-I is impossible to tell apart from other substances, and it can easily pass off as LSD when mixed into candy or blotting paper, putting casual LSD users at risk of experiencing 2C-I’s more severe side effects, or worse, an overdose. In addition, 2C-I can be difficult to detect by emergency room doctors, with many toxicology tests coming back negative. This could be due, in part, to smiles being laced with other compounds. Like heroin and other synthetics, smiles is notoriously impure. There is currently no established lethal dose of 2C-I, but the drug has been implicated in a number of deaths, both in the U.S. and Europe.
“Smiles” Overdose Tragedies
According to local news reports, in the summer of 2012, 17-year-old Elijah Stai of Park Rapids, Minn., ingested a fatal dose of smiles in a candy bar given to him by a friend. Only an hour later, while hanging out at the local McDonald’s, Stai’s smiles trip took a turn for the worse. His distraught friends and other eyewitnesses describe him acting “possessed”: hyperventilating, making strange sounds and repeatedly hitting his head against the floor. His worried friends took him back home in an attempt to let him calm down and “ride out” the high, but the day ended in tragedy. Less than two hours later, Stai stopped breathing. His story was sadly mirrored by another death in a nearby city just the day before when police found the body of a teen on a sidewalk; he had also suffered a fatal smiles overdose. Police blamed both incidents on a “bad batch” of 2C-I that was circulating on the streets at the time.
The story of the teens serves as a somber reminder of how dangerous synthetic drugs can be. Even if most 2C-I “trips” end without any tragic consequences, there’s no telling how safe the next dose will be, or if it’s even pure 2C-I. Experts are urging extreme caution around these drugs and warn that teens are especially likely to experiment with them.
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