2C-B (Nexus) (Encyclopedia of Drugs and Addictive Substances)
- What Is It Made Of?
- Are There Any Medical Reasons for Taking This Substance?
- Effects on the Body
- Reactions with Other Drugs or Substances
- Bad Trips
- The Law
What Kind of Drug Is It?
2C-B is an illegal and dangerous drug that has raised many concerns among medical experts and law enforcement officials worldwide. Its official name, 4-bromo-2,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine, is so difficult to pronounce that it is almost always referred to by its shortened name, 2C-B, or by the street name "nexus." 2C-B is usually sold as a tablet, a capsule, or a white powder. By 2004, however, it began appearing on the streets as both a red pill and an orange powder.
2C-B abuse is most common among teenagers and young adults who attend all-night dance parties, known as , on a regular basis. It is often taken in combination with other so-called rave or club drugs such as ecstasy (MDMA), GHB, ketamine, LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), and methamphetamine. (Entries on these drugs are available in this encyclopedia.)
It is important to note that 2C-B is a synthetic drug; in other words, it cannot be grown in a garden or dug up from the ground. This drug is produced solely in illegal labs, has no known medical use, and cannot even be obtained with a doctor's prescription. 2C-B is used for just one reason, and that reason is to get high. It is very similar in chemical makeup to amphetaminesPronounced am-FETT-uh-meens; stimulant drugs that increase mental alertness, reduce appetite, and help keep users awake.. Amphetamines are stimulants, meaning that they increase the activity of a living organism or one of its parts.
2C-B is a substance that affects the behavior and mental state of those who use it. 2C-B is also considered a psychedelic drug and a hallucinogen. Psychedelic drugs and hallucinogens produce hallucinationsVisions or other perceptions of things that are not really present., or strange sights and sounds, in users' heads. In a report filed in late December of 2004, ABC News writer Marc Lallanilla called synthetic hallucinogens like 2C-B "a new class of drugs [that are] getting increased attention from police and partiers alike."
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) first came across 2C-B in 1979. The DEA noted in its Drug Intelligence Brief "An Overview of Club Drugs" (2000) that 2C-B first gained a following among drug users in Germany and Switzerland. However, the drug's effects soon began to "appeal to the U.S. rave culture" as well. These effects include increasing the user's awareness of things seen and heard, "increased sexual desire, and heightened senses of taste and touch."
By 2000, 2C-B had become a considerable concern to U.S. drug officials. At that time, significant seizures of the drug had occurred in nearly twenty states. Among the largest were raids carried out in Richmond, Virginia, and the Washington, D.C., area. By 2002, use of the drug was reported nationwide. Drug officials said they did not expect to see this trend reverse for years.
American chemist Alexander T. "Sasha" Shulgin (1925) first produced 2C-B in 1974. Over the next year or so, he and his wife did extensive testing of the drug by using it themselves and recording the results. Shulgin has discovered or synthesized more than 150 drugs, most of them hallucinogens. He has angered U.S. law enforcement agencies for documenting his personal experiences while using drugs. In addition, Shulgin has published the chemical formulas "for almost every mind-bending drug known to humankind," wrote Dennis Romero in the Los Angeles Times.
Dr. Shulgin began his controversial career in chemistry in the 1960s. He conducted research at the University of California at San Francisco and worked as a senior research chemist at Dow Chemical. He received a license from the DEA to study seized drugs and "give expert testimony in drug trials," Romero noted. However, this did not "allow him to invent the stuff, though," continued Romero. "A few drugs Shulgin invented, substances with names like STP and 2C-B, escaped to the streets of San Francisco." STP, also called DOM, is another psychedelic hallucinogen.
What Is It Made Of?
Five elements are used to make 2C-B: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, and bromine. The chemical element bromine is a deep red liquid. It is highly explosive, strong smelling, extremely caustic (burning and corrosive), and poisonous.
Many scientific terms can be applied to 2C-B. First of all, it is considered an chemical compound because it contains carbon. It also falls under the definition of an alkaloidA nitrogen-containing substance found in plants.. The root word in 2C-B's official name refers to the phenethylamine group of alkaloids, which also includes ephedrine, methamphetamine, and mescaline. (Entries on ephedra, methamphetamine, and mescaline are available in this encyclopedia.) The chemical properties of 2C-B most closely resemble those of mescaline, a powerful drug that can cause convulsions and is well known for its hallucinogenic properties. According to the DEA, 2C-B is ten times more powerful than the popular club drug ecstasy (MDMA).
How Is It Taken?
2C-B is most often taken by mouth and is available in pill, capsule, or powder form. In powder form, it is usually mixed with a drink, but it also can be inhaled through the nose. Users report that snorting 2C-B is painful. The effects of the drug are increased when it is inhaled rather than swallowed.
2C-B is sometimes combined with ecstasy (MDMA) and called a "party pack." Or, it is mixed with LSD and referred to as a "banana split." The average dose of 2C-B sold on the street is 10 to 20 milligrams and costs 10 to 30 dollars each. Because 2C-B is an drug produced only in illegal labs, it is not possible to determine the accuracy of any dose.
Are There Any Medical Reasons for Taking This Substance?
2C-B has no known medical use.
In the middle and late 1980s, 2C-B became an alternative or replacement for ecstasy (MDMA). Ecstasy was classified as an illegal drug in the United States in 1985. Switching one drug for another without the user's knowledge is a common and very dangerous practice in the world of synthesized drugs. "Drug quality may vary significantly," stated the authors of the Drug Intelligence Brief "An Overview of Club Drugs." "Substitute drugs often are sold when suppliers are unable to provide the drug currently in demand." This increases the likelihood of an overdose in unsuspecting users.
2C-B was not really used as a street drug in its own right until the early 1990s. It was sold in adult book and video stores, drug paraphernalia stores called "head" shops, bars, and nightclubs. Drug enforcement officials noticed the trend in 2C-B abuse and set out to stop it. Even before 2C-B was officially classified as an illegal drug in the United States in 1995, DEA agents closed 2C-B manufacturing laboratories in California and Arizona. In late 2004, 2C-B resurfaced in central New York. News 10 Now reporter Sarah Buynovsky referred to it as "a new and dangerous drug." She added that "2C-B is often homemade in labs and [is] difficult to track down."
The 2004 Monitoring the Future (MTF) Study
The results of the 2004 Monitoring the Future (MTF) study, conducted by the University of Michigan (U of M), were released to the public on December 21, 2004. The study is sponsored by research grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Since 1991, U of M has tracked patterns of drug use and attitudes toward drugs among students in the eighth, tenth, and twelfth grades. (Prior to that, from 1975 to 1990, the MTF survey was limited to twelfth graders.)
The 2004 MTF survey found that, overall, hallucinogen use among students at all three grade levels was down slightly. Still, the percentage of teens that had tried hallucinogens at least once remained very high trend that began in the mid-1980s. 2C-B use is not tracked specifically in the MTF survey, but is grouped in with statistics for "hallucinogens other than LSD." According to MTF charts for 2003 to 2004, about 1.7 percent of tenth and twelfth graders admitted to using hallucinogens at least once a month. About 4 percent of tenth graders and 6 percent of twelfth graders reported hallucinogen use "in the last twelve months."
The perceived availability of hallucinogens (the ease with which seniors said they would be able to get the drugs) was very high as well. About half of those surveyed said it would be "fairly easy" or "very easy" to obtain hallucinogens. It is important to stress, however, that these respondents were not basing their answers specifically on the availability of 2C-B, but on hallucinogens in general.
The MTF survey does not track drug use among people after their high school years. As of 2005, data on 2C-B usage in the general population revealed that "the typical user is a young, white, college-educated and Websavvy person," noted Lallanilla in his ABC News report. A large number of 2C-B users also take other drugs, which increases their risks for physical and mental side effects.
Effects on the Body
The most noticeable physical effects of 2C-B use are anxiety, agitation, facial flushing, sweating, muscle clenching, poor coordination, shaking, chills, tremors, dilated or enlarged pupils, and increased blood pressure and heart rate. Feelings of fear, anger, and distress are often sparked by 2C-B.
Drugs like 2C-B "have law enforcement and health officials concerned because their long-term health effects are virtually unknown," Lallanilla pointed out. 2C-B is capable of producing varying effects in humans based on the dosage taken. In fact, increasing the dose by just a few milligrams can make an enormous difference in what occurs in the user's body.
Although there are reports of negative effects at any dosage, a dose of 2C-B in the 4- to 5-milligram range typically makes users feel calm, relaxed, and more aware of their bodies and their emotions. At slightly higher doses of 8 to 10 milligrams, users usually appear drunk and may experience mild hallucinations.
Effects of Higher Doses
The intensity of the visual effects increases when more 2C-B is taken. Doses of 20 to 40 milligrams reportedly produce very vivid hallucinations. Solid objects appear to crawl and change shape. Geometric patterns can pop up on plain surfaces. Colors become more intense, and moving objects seem to leave trails of color behind them. In addition, music seems to take on a visual dimension, with users experiencing unusual blends of sights and sounds. Doses higher than 40 milligrams can bring on extremely frightening
hallucinations that occur with the eyes open or closed. Users have reported terrifying panic attacks after seeing gruesome 2C-Binduced images. Feelings of anger, , and generalized terror may also occur.
The effects of 2C-B usually become noticeable about fifteen to twenty minutes after the drug is taken. They reach their peak after an hour or so. Typically the effects of the drug do not begin to decrease until three or four hours after ingestion. They can last for up to twelve hours, depending on the strength of the dose taken. Some users have reported having unusual dreams up to three nights after taking 2C-B. Others claim that the mood-altering effects of the drug can remain some five to six days after coming down from an intense 2C-B high.
"Many who try 2C-B find it intensely disagreeable," wrote Paul M. Gahlinger in Illegal Drugs: A Complete Guide to Their History, Chemistry, Use, and Abuse. "Diarrhea, cramping, and gas are common, and some have complained of allergic-type reactions with cough and runny nose. Some users feel anxious or have frightening thoughts or visions." 2C-B appears to bind to serotoninA combination of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen; it is found in the brain, blood, and stomach lining and acts as a neurotransmitter and blood vessel regulator. receptors in the brain, which is why it has hallucinogenic properties. Serotonin is a or "messenger" substance that carries information throughout the body. When the normal flow of serotonin is interrupted, it becomes difficult for people to distinguish between what is real and what appears to be real. Some people have become terrified of losing their minds or dying while on 2C-B.
Reactions with Other Drugs or Substances
Little is known about 2C-B's effects when taken with alcohol or other drugs. That poses a big problem for paramedics and emergency room doctors and nurses because users typically take 2C-B along with a variety of other dangerous substances. It is much harder to treat a person who has overdosed when a mixture of drugs is involved. 2C-B is frequently used in combination with other illicit club drugs, particularly amphetamines, ecstasy (MDMA), GHB, ketamine, and methamphetamine. Users often say that 2C-B heightens or increases the effects of other drugs.
2C-B is especially dangerous for people with , epilepsyA disorder involving the misfiring of electrical impulses in the brain, sometimes resulting in seizures and loss of consciousness., orheartproblems.Itis also dangerous for pregnant women and their unborn children, and for people taking certain types of antidepressants.
Treatment for Habitual Users
Frequent use of 2C-B can result in a . Psychological dependence can develop quickly. The treatment program for heavy users of 2C-B is the same as for users of other hallucinogens. A combination of therapy methods is used, including individual counseling, group therapy, and sometimes medication.
Studies and surveys conducted in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom indicate that 2C-B users are likely to abuse other drugs as well. Taken alone, hallucinogens have a powerful
effect on the brain. They distort the way a person's five senses work, affect the memory, and even change the user's perceptions of time and space. People who use drugs like 2C-B often have a hard time concentrating, communicating, or telling the difference between what is real and what is not. 2C-B is capable of disrupting a person's ability to think, communicate, and act sensibly.
Users of 2C-B will develop a tolerance to the drug over time. If they increase the dose they take, they face a greater risk of having a bad or disturbing flashbacks of an earlier trip. Since 2C-B is hallucinogenic, it impairs mental functions. This greatly increases the risk of accidents among users and can also lead users to engage in unsafe sex or violent behavior.
Possession of 2C-B is illegal in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. 2C-B is also considered an illegal substance in Japan and various European countries, including France, the Netherlands, Germany, and Sweden.
One key fact every reader should know about 2C-B is that it is an illicit drug: it cannot, under any circumstances, be used legally. It is considered unsafe even when taken under medical supervision (and it cannot be administered legally by anyone, including physicians).
In the United States, the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) of 1970 called for all federally regulated drug substances to be categorized into one of five schedules. These schedules are based on a substance's medicinal value, possible harmfulness, and potential for abuse and addiction. Schedule I is reserved for the most dangerous drugs that have no recognized medical use. 2C-B is a Schedule I drug. "Once a drug has been designated a Schedule I Controlled Substance, it becomes very difficult for researchers to obtain permission to study that drug," explained Gahlinger. That is one of the reasons why "very little is known about2C-B."
A drug's schedule plays a major role in determining penalties for illegal possession or sale of the drug. In the United States, a person convicted of possessing and/or selling a Schedule I drug such as 2C-B can face a lengthy prison term and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. Repeat offenders receive even harsher punishment. The United Kingdom regulates 2C-B under the Medicines Act. In Canada, 2C-B is a scheduled drug under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Japan's Health and Welfare Ministry ruled the drug had no legitimate medical uses and banned it in 1998 under the Narcotics Control Law. In 2000, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended that 2C-B be placed under international control because its use poses a "substantial" public health and social problem.
For More Information
Escohotado, Antonio. A Brief History of Drugs: From the Stone Age to the Stoned Age. Rochester, VT: Park Street Press, 1999.
Gahlinger, Paul M. Illegal Drugs: A Complete Guide to Their History, Chemistry, Use, and Abuse. Las Vegas, NV: Sagebrush Press, 2001.
Knowles, Cynthia R. Up All Night: A Closer Look at Club Drugs and Rave Culture. North Springfield, VT: Red House Press, 2001.
De Boer, D., and others. "More Data about the New Psychoactive Drug 2C-B." Journal of Analytical Toxicology (May-June, 1999): pp. 227-228.
"The Death of the Party." FDA Consumer (March, 2000): p. 14.
Kintz, P. "Interpreting the Results of Medico-Legal Analyses in Cases of Substance Abuse." Journal of Toxicology: Clinical Toxicology (March, 2000): p. 197.
Kowalski, Kathiann M. "What Hallucinogens Can Do to Your Brain." Current Health (April, 2000): p. 6.
Mackenzie, Dana. "Secrets of an Acid Head (Research on Hallucinogenic Drugs)." New Scientist (June 23, 2001): p. 26.
Romero, Dennis. "Sasha Shulgin, Psychedelic Chemist." Los Angeles Times (September 5, 1995).
"2C-B." Fact Index Home Page. http://www.fact-index.com/ (accessed June 16, 2005).
Buynovsky, Sarah. "New Drug Popping Up in the State." News 10 Now (New York): 24-Hour Local News, October 28, 2004. http://news10now.com/content/top_stories/ (accessed June 30, 2005).
"Drugs and Chemicals of Concern: 4-Bromo-2,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine." U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration. http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drugs_concern/ (accessed June 16, 2005).
Lallanilla, Marc. "New Rave Drugs Have Experts Concerned." ABC News, December 30, 2004. http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=366370&page=1 (accessed June 30, 2005).
Monitoring the Future. http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/ and http://www.nida.nih.gov/Newsroom/04/2004MTFDrug.pdf (both accessed June 30, 2005).
"An Overview of Club Drugs: Drug Intelligence Brief, February 2000." U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration, Intelligence Division. http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/pubs/intel/20005intellbrief.pdf (accessed June 16, 2005).
See also: Ecstasy (MDMA); Ephedra; GHB; Ketamine; LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide); Mescaline; Methamphetamine