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Article Summary


DragonFly is the common name given to the psychedelic drug whose full name is usually written Bromo-DragonFLY. Its unusual name comes from the shape of its molecular structure, which is reminiscent of that of a flying insect. It is an especially dangerous drug when abused, because of its very high potency as a hallucinogen and because of the extended nature of its effects.

History of DragonFly

Synthesis of the drug was first achieved in 1998 in the United States, in the laboratory of the prominent pharmacologist, David E. Nichols. The first chemist to synthesize the drug was Matthew Parker. Its name followed on from a number of compounds in the previously synthesized dihydrofuran series, which had been given the informal name of FLY. However, DragonFly was found to be considerably more potent than any of these earlier drugs.

Pharmacology of DragonFly

This drug is quite closely related to the family of phenethylamines, and its strength is such that most authorities consider it to be almost as potent as the notorious hallucinogen, LSD. The usual dosage of DragonFly is unclear, partly because of the lack of data on the extent of its illegal use, but for the most part it seems likely that it varies between 200 micrograms and one milligram. At this level, it may remain active for quite an extended period, perhaps running to as much as three or four days.

A serious concern regarding DragonFly is its high level of toxicity at doses which are relatively low when compared to its usual, recreational level. The drug is believed to have caused the deaths of several users in both the United States and parts of Scandinavia. A further concern is that a batch of the drug was distributed in 2009, wrongly labeled with the name of a related, but much less potent, compound. This error, together with the fact that the batch was found not to be particularly pure, is considered likely to have caused several further deaths, as well as a considerable number of cases in which the taker was admitted to hospital.

Although DragonFly is specifically prohibited by law only in parts of northern Europe, for example Norway and Denmark, it is also controlled by legislation in many other jurisdictions as an analog of a controlled substance. In the United States, for example, it is listed as a Schedule I substance, which is to say that it is considered to have very substantial risks of being abused, as well as having no use in medical treatment. As such, in some jurisdictions, using or even possessing DragonFly can result in serious criminal penalties being imposed.

Consequences of overdose

A case was reported from Sweden in which a man who had taken a very substantial overdose of DragonFly contracted both necrosis and gangrene after several weeks. After being hospitalized, the man's life was only saved by the amputation of a number of fingers and sections of both his feet. There was also a case in the United Kingdom in 2008, in which the drug taker inhaled his own vomit, thereby prompting asphyxiation which came close to killing him.

Although the other effects of a DragonFly trip, such as the long-lasting hallucinations it provokes, may at first appear less extreme, they can also have tragic consequences. One man in Denmark whose friend died from ingestion of the drug described the experience as lasting "an eternity" and being the worst thing he had ever experienced. Other patients have been lucky to survive after DragonFly provoked violent seizures and vomiting of blood.

Treatment for DragonFly abuse

Users of this drug may feel unable to stop using it, perhaps because they have become addicted to the feeling of a DragonFly trip. They may also find it hard to face the inevitably long and difficult road to complete withdrawal and recovery. This problem is compounded by the fact that both psychological and physical after-effects of DragonFly abuse may last for months or even years after a person has stopped taking it entirely. For this reason, professional help is of the utmost importance.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is an agency of the United States federal government. It operates the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), which helps to coordinate a national approach to treatment of drug abuse-related problems. Its Substance Abuse Treatment Locator - which is freely accessible via samhsa.gov - provides a quick and simple way to find treatment centers anywhere in the U.S. or its territories.

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