Designer Drugs: Highs and Lows That Every Parent Needs to Know

The Internet has created an easy platform for designer drugs. Whether it’s the herbal preparation salvia, hallucinogenic bath salts or the new designer amphetamine Bromo-Dragonfly (also called B-Fly), parents and doctors have started to worry. What, exactly, are we dealing with? 

Let’s take a look at designer amphetamines, from the old to the new.


  1. MDMA, better known as E or Ecstasy, has become popular among partygoers, which I’ve written about in previous blogs about ecstasy (“Is Ecstasy Bad For You?” and “Ecstacy-related Deaths at Electric Daisy Carnival”). The desirable effects include heightened sensations of euphoria, sexuality, physical touch, emotional wellness and enhanced perception of colors and lights, especially flashing strobes and trails of light.
  2. Paramethoxymethamphetamine (PMA) is another amphetamine abused similar to ecstasy. PMA has the reputation of being a souped-up version of E with the slang name “Double Stack White Mitsubishi” (because of the symbol on the tablet). PMA has an even greater likelihood of altered mental status with high blood pressure, heart rate, and core body temperature. Significant morbidity and mortality may follow PMA ingestion and overdose compared to ecstasy.
  3. Bromo-dragonfly (B-fly) is the new kid on the block. Bromo-dragonfly is the name for another synthetic amphetamine modified from the common phenylethylamine structure. The name comes from the molecular structure that resembles a dragonfly. Users love the hallucinogenic properties that are just less than those of LSD and the longer duration of effect, which may be more than several days. Typical doses are 0.5 to 1 mg and are sold commonly in the form of blotters (paper that is soaked in liquid then cut into square tabs).

In 2007, an 18-year-old woman in Denmark was found dead after ingestion of a hallucinogenic liquid later found to be Bromo-Dragonfly. This case led to B-fly being classified as an illegal drug in Denmark on December 5, 2007. Several reports of deaths and toxicities followed.

Bromo-dragonfly is explicitly illegal only in Sweden, Norway and Denmark.

As a parent and a physician, I urge you to take a look at what kids are attracted to when it comes to these designer drugs. As they say, the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know.

Get on YouTube and look at the thousands of videos posted by teenagers about their high on salvia, Bromo-dragonfly, and bath salts – our new easily available designer drugs.

After being dumped by their friends in our emergency room, I have cared for many young people having terrible reactions to designer drugs. We know the story with heroin, meth, alcohol, PCP and cocaine. Now, it’s important to get to know these new drugs and, together, keep them out of our kids’ hands.

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