2C-I Drug: Dosage, Side Effects, Overdose Risks

Not all psychedelics come from a remote place in some distant mountain forest or tropical jungle, like DMT or mescaline. Some are created in labs in order to synthesize and study the effects of different chemical compounds and explore any potential uses. In the 1960s and 70s, psychedelics were the subject of intense drugs. In fact, scientists ran scores of experiments using drugs like LSD, some of which have become infamous.

Some synthetic psychedelic drugs are produced from existing, naturally occurring psychoactive chemicals—2C-I is one such drug. As a member of the 2C family, the 2C-I drug is a synthetic club drug that was created in the 70s from a naturally occurring psychedelic compound called mescaline, which comes from a variety of plants including the peyote cactus.

When these drugs find their way to the streets they can be unpredictable. With a variety of chemical compounds in the 2C family, it can be difficult for users to know what they are getting into. It can also be difficult for law enforcement and legislators to respond to unique compounds and designer drugs. Finally, medical professionals may have a hard time responding to patients who are intoxicated by one of many possible 2C drugs. Researchers often produce studies, exploring possible treatment options for specific compounds like the 2C-I drug.

What Are Designer Drugs?

The 2C-1 drug is a member of a long line of designer drugs, which are substances that have similarities with other illicit drugs. These similarities may include comparable chemical properties and effects. Designer drugs are produced when a popular drug is banned and strictly controlled. Then one of two things occurs:

  1. There is an existing legal compound that was created for some scientific purpose that closely resembles a controlled substance.
  2. An illegal lab produces a similar compound to be sold on the gray market (a market used to sell items that are potentially illegal to trade but are done so through loopholes).

Sometimes designer drugs maintain their popularity even after they are banned and regulated. In the case of drugs designed by the academic community, these compounds are often created to maximize potency and minimize negative side effects. On the other hand, designer drugs are new compounds distinct from their illicit counterparts. If users treat them like known versions of the drug with no knowledge of potency, it can lead to overdoses or other negative effects.

The term “bath salts” was popular in the media a few years ago, referring to a specific drug that caused increased aggression and violent behavior. However, bath salts is a term used to describe designer drugs in general. The name comes from the fact that designer drugs are often sold disguised as some other product like cleaner or actual bath salts.

Following the banning of MDMA in 1985, designer drugs in the 2C family started to grow in popularity. 2C-B was also targeting with a ban in the early 2000s and 2C-I took center stages. As of the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act of 2012, 2C-I is illegal in the US.

What Is The 2C-I Drug?

2C-I is a psychedelic drug that is a phenethylamine, or an organic compound that acts as a nervous system stimulant. The 2C-I drug gained the nickname smiles because, unlike many psychedelic drugs, 2C-I has effects similar to MDMA (ecstasy).

2C-I was synthesized by Alexander Shulgin in 1975, along with some other phenethylamines and the rest of the 2C-I drugs. He published a study measuring the potency of these drugs and later a book titled PiHKAL: A Chemical Love Story. Shulgin is credited with introducing MDMA to the scientific community and through his work became known as the “godfather of psychedelics”. In his published writings, he describes a plethora of different chemical compounds with slight variations and varied effects.

2C-I is often confused with the drug 2C-I-NBOMe which is a psychedelic that also shares some effects similar to MDMA. However, this drug, also known as “smiles,” has a much lower active dose than NBOMe. It has lead to overdoses when users take a dose that would be appropriate for 2C-I.

Physiological Experience Of The 2C-I Drug Effects

Since the 2C-I drug is a stimulant, it causes a variety of effects that manifest in the body including muscle spasm, cramps, and contractions. In a 2014 study, researchers found that the drug produced a head twitch in mice. The drug has other physical effects that aren’t typical of other psychedelics like DMT or psilocybin. For instance, 2C-1 drug effects raise energy levels in a way that is similar to MDMA. 2C-I is also said to produce an intense “body high”, or pins and needles and skin sensitivity, in a larger dosage that isn’t present in other psychedelics.

Users also experience unpredictable rushes of bodily warmth that start at the top of the head. Others who experience this kind of physical euphoria may also feel an intensification of the sense of touch.

Other common physical effects of the 2C-I drug include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Dehydration
  • Frequent urination
  • Nausea
  • Pupil dilation

A 2013 study published in the Journal of Medical Toxicology reported some other more serious physical side effects including hypertension, tachycardia, seizures, and, because of the drug’s effect of blocking temperature regulation, hyperthermia.

Psychological 2C-I Drug Effects

2C-I drug effects are congruent with other psychedelics like LSD and has some overlapping effects with MDMA. While psychedelics like LSD and salvia can be less enjoyable to users and more dangerous in a party setting, 2C-I is commonly used at parties.

Like MDMA, 2C-I affects users with empathogenic effects. This refers to a heightened experience of emotional connection with others and emotional openness. A study in mice also showed that subjects increased social and exploratory behavior. Users also report a feeling of increased environmental novelty or being in awe of their surroundings. Other psychological effects of  the 2C-I drug include:

  • Increased libido
  • Time distortion
  • Wakefulness
  • Hallucinations
  • Synaesthesia, crossing of senses (ie. tasting words, hearing colors)

According to the Journal of Medical Toxicology study, 2C drugs also displayed some other psychological symptoms including agitation, aggression, and violent tendencies.

2C-I Drug Overdose Risks

Since the 2C-I drug has only recently been common on the streets as a designer drug, there is still a lot to learn about its effects on humans. Many users are unaware of the potency and potential risks they face when ingesting these serious lab-grown substances. Studies show that people who used 2C-I suffered from dangerous levels of delirium, hyperthermia, and seizures, all of which require immediate medical attention.

Case studies involving fatal seizures are being studied as they seem to be closely related to recent doses of 2C-I drugs. Designer drugs can be deadly and 2C-I is no exception.

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