The effects of the 2C-B drug can vary depending on dosage and on the individual taking them. They are an attractive alternative to MDMA with a shorter timeline.
Strobe lights flash as the beat from electronic dance music vibrates through the room. Someone taps you on the shoulder and hands you a little white tablet. This small hockey puck shaped pill can be one of the several substances known as club drugs. These drugs are taken to enhance the party experience, increase emotional connectivity, and bring on a sense of euphoria. The most common of these drugs is MDMA, also known as molly or ecstasy. But since MDMA’s legal status changed in 1985, several designer drugs took its place.
The 2C-B drug is one such designer drug that was popularized in the wake of outlawing MDMA. It was first sold and shared as ecstasy, with the typical teenage raver not knowing the difference. However, experienced users can tell the difference based on the shorter duration of the 2C-B drug’s effects. Later, it gained popularity of its own and has recently become the most popular party drug in countries like Colombia.
2C-B, short for 2,5-dimethoxy-4-bromophenethylamine, also called Nexus or Bees, is a synthetic designer psychedelic drug. The chemical is a serotonin receptor antagonist, which affects mood. It is sold as a powder or tablet and can be vaporized, swallowed, or insufflated (snorted). It is a member of the 2C family of drugs that are synthesized for its mood lifting and empathogenic effects. Scientists believed it could be useful for psychotherapeutic purposes. Today it is listed as a Schedule I drug in the United States.
Designer drugs are often created to replace an existing substance after it has been made illegal. Sometimes they are even made to isolate and enhance specific effects. However, as in the case of 2C-B, designer drugs may be created legally in laboratories to minimize the side effects of an existing substance to use it for clinical purposes.
In 1976, a chemist named Alexander Shulgin introduced MDMA (synthesized in 1912) to the scientific community and psychologists began using it in small doses to aid in talk therapy sessions. Shulgin synthesized countless chemical variations, some of which aimed at mimicking MDMA and minimizing side effects.
He synthesized the 2C family of drugs, which are considered psychedelics rather than entactogens like MDMA. Though they do have similar effects to ecstasy, the 2C family tends to have more psychedelic effects that may alter perception.
As a designer drug, 2C-B became a legal alternative to ecstasy, and once it was outlawed, 2C-I took its place in some countries. When used illegally, designer drugs can pose a problem for medical professionals and forensic scientists.
If patients come in under the influence of one of a variety of different designer drugs, it can be difficult to know the best treatment. Also, when drug screens and toxicology reports are performed, labs use immunoassay tests, which cannot produce accurate results when drugs like the 2C family are involved.
There has been limited academic research done to measure the effects of 2C-B, and anecdotal evidence suggests that the effects can widely vary between experiences. However, there are many commonly reported side effects, including:
Many of these symptoms vary in intensity based on dosage. Effects that have to do with the heart or blood pressure typically occur with extremely high doses. Some gastrointestinal distress is usually felt even with the typical effective dose (10 mg when taken orally). Doses above 35 mg (20 mg when insufflated) are more likely to lead to adverse effects like hypertension or hyperthermia.
2C-B drug effects are typically mild at standard doses with users reporting subtle-to-no-effects at 10 mg. The lethal dose is unknown; in fact, in his book PiHKAL: A Chemical Love Story, Shulgin said he accidentally took 100 mg with no adverse effects. However, any chemical that affects blood pressure and the heart can have serious harmful effects for some users.
The effects of 2C-B are comparable to MDMA despite the fact they are serotonergic psychedelics instead of empathogens. Users use 2C drugs differently than other psychedelics. Typically knowledgeable users adhere to the “set and setting” rule, the idea coined by Dr. Norman Zinberg that says your environment and mindset largely shape psychedelic trips. Because of this, trips can be negative when experienced in settings with crowds, loud noises, and flashing lights.
However, since 2C-B mimics MDMA, it’s mood elevation, and empathic effects make it popular at parties. These effects include:
For some users and at higher doses, effects may be more comparable to typical psychedelics. Users who take doses around 30 mg report open-eye visuals (OEV) and closed eye visuals (CEV), red and green color changes, loss of balance, and difficulty communicating. In some cases, high doses lead to powerful and frightening trips, which can be dangerous, especially in a party setting.
It offers positive mood changes and some perceptual changes without the impairment typically associated with psychedelics, which makes it a popular alternative to MDMA. However, like other psychedelics, it’s common to feel restless or even panicked when on 2C-B.
Like most drugs, 2C-B has a duration time that depends on the method of introducing it into the body. It can last four to eight hours when taken orally and four to 12 hours when insufflated. When ingested, it takes 2C-B longer than other similar drugs to take effect, with some experiencing no effects for up to an hour. Insufflating takes much less time to take effect, with just one to ten minutes before feeling the drug.
A potentially dangerous dose of 2C-B will depend on several factors, including the purity of the drug, your relative size and weight, and your tolerance level. Users typically take a dose between 10-30 mg in tablet or powder form. A single tablet usually contains between 5 and 10 mg, if the tablet is pure and has little to no adulterants or additives.
A dose between 25 and 40 mg is considered pretty high. High doses may be more likely to cause negative side effects like restlessness, hypertension, and tachycardia. The toxicity of 2C-B and its fatal dose level are unknown.
The drug hasn’t been adequately tested on humans to know that information. The studies that have been done that involved human subjects were at relatively low doses. However, the drug is potent at these lower doses, and experimenting with high doses of an illicit drug is inherently dangerous.
There is little evidence to suggest that 2C-B poses a high risk of addiction, but, because of its status as a party drug, it is often abused.
Taking illicit psychedelics in public can be very dangerous. Most deaths associated with psychedelic drugs happens because the users put themselves in harm’s way because of a bad trip.
Plus, psychedelic drugs typically pose psychological risks at some level. If you are dealing with any psychological problems, you may worsen them when taking psychedelics like 2C-B. There is also the danger of experiencing PTSD or other mental issues as a result of having a bad trip.
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Unlike other psychedelic drugs, 2C-B does seem to have some physical side effects. It can cause heart-related symptoms such as tachycardia, hypertension, and an overall increase in heart rate. The cardiac effects of 2C-B seem to be mild compared to MDMA and amphetamines, but the effects can last up to an hour. Users with heart-related problems may be at risk of cardiac complications.
Case reports have shown that 2C-B was involved in cases of serious neurotoxicity. In one case in 2010, a 43-year-old woman took 2C-B and started to experience severe headaches within 48 hours. She also developed other neurological symptoms like quadriparesis (weakening of all limbs) and other signs of brain damage. Tests revealed that she suffered a stroke.
Why are Illicit Designer Drugs Inherently Dangerous?
Someone hands you a tablet and says it’s 2C-B. Do you trust that person? Do you trust the person he or she got it from? Do you trust the person who pressed the pill or the person that synthesized the substance? Who’s to say what’s in that tablet?
There are many drugs in the 2C family and even more designer psychedelics that are designed to mimic MDMA. Some of them are deadly at relatively small doses. Plus, powerful drugs like fentanyl are being added more and more to illicit drug supplies like heroin, cocaine, and even meth.
Each time you take a street drug, it’s a gamble. If you or someone you know is struggling with party drugs like 2C-B or MDMA, there is help available. Before you experiment, learn more. Call Arete to learn about what you can do to get on the road to recovery.
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Papaseit, E., Farré, M., Pérez-Mañá, C., Torrens, M., Ventura, M., Pujadas, M., . . . González, D. (2018, March 13). Acute Pharmacological Effects of 2C-B in Humans: An Observational Study. from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5859368/