Gravel. It follows a long line of synthetic drugs that have popped up in recent years such as spice and bath salts. It isn’t any less dangerous either. Gravel is a synthetic drug that was first seen about six months ago. It looks a lot like crack and can be smoked, snorted or even shot up. The effects of this new gravel drug are paranoia, euphoria, hallucinations, oh and kidney failure. It is said to be a mixture of bath salts, methamphetamine, and/or Klonopin. Early lab results reveal the rock-like substance, hence the name gravel, contains alpha-Pyrrolidinopentiophenone, a synthetic stimulant acting on the cardiovascular and central nervous system.
Synthetic drugs such as Gravel are consistently changing. The feds have trouble keeping up and so do the hospitals. Doctors are scared about the repercussions of a drug such as gravel not only because of its effects which can also include suicide, but also because they know nothing about it as of right now.
Gravel Drug Effects
One Gravel user explained the high from it as an “inability to even think.” According to some of the YouTube comments on videos about it, shooting up this drug will eat your skin from the inside out. The validity of this, is of course, unknown but there are many pictures of gravel users needing to get their veins removed. (See picture below to the right.)
Often times gravel users have no idea what they are taking when they first try it. And it can be deadly. A city in Tennessee has seen one visit to the hospital every day due to gravel and it takes a heavy dose of sedatives to finally calm the person down. And Tennessee seems to be where all the “gravel” action is happening
Over the past two months, Kingsport Police Department and the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office have had approximately 20 incidents each related to “gravel.” We’re not seeing the crazy rages (like with bath salts), but the paranoia is the worst we’ve seen from any drugs,” said KPD Vice Detective Nathan Elliott. “And the effects on the body, (the user’s) appearance, those are the worst. We don’t know if they’ll have cancer in five years, or fall over dead.”
“Gravel can potentially be even more dangerous than the synthetic drugs we were dealing with last year, mainly because you do not know for sure what other drugs have been mixed with the PVP,” said Earhart. “There have been reports of dealers trying to pass straight ammonia nitrate off as gravel.”
Gravel runs between $80 and $200 a gram, according to police, with Earhart attributing the fluctuation to a batch’s purity; i.e., has it been cut with other drugs, or is it straight alpha-PVP. Kingsport police say the variation in price is a classic example of drug peddlers’ power over their victims.“They’re getting people hooked on it, then raise their price,” said Elliott. “They get them addicted in just a few months rather than years.” “We arrested an attractive girl a while back (with gravel), then saw her a couple months later on a driving violation. She looked like she’d been smoking meth for five years.” Though in the infancy of their dealings with the drug, law enforcement officials say extreme paranoia is a trademark tendency: pointing to multiple cases as illustration.
Dyann J. Hale, 50, was arrested after deputies stopped her vehicle for improper registration and learned her license had been revoked for DUI since June 2012. When they inventoried the vehicle, officers found six bags of gravel as well as prescription pills and paraphernalia used to ingest or smoke drugs. Hale was charged with violation of the registration law, operation of a vehicle without proper registration, driving on a revoked license, possession of a controlled substance analogue for resale and possession of drug paraphernalia.
A controlled substance analogue, by federal definition, is a substance with a chemical structure similar to the chemical structure of a controlled substance that has a stimulant, depressant or hallucinogenic effect on the central nervous system. With the discovery that the first case was also related to Hale, she could face additional charges of possession of a controlled substance analogue. Dr. Garik Misenar, chairman of emergency medicine at Johnson City Medical Center, said he’s seen several cases of people going to the hospital for treatment after they’ve used gravel. “We’re starting to see some in the emergency room. We had a patient yesterday who had been injecting alpha-PVP,” Misenar said. “It’s similar to the bath salts we were seeing two yeas ago.
It’s a powerful stimulant that causes some of the same paranoia and some of the same agitation.” The person’s level of agitation tends to be lower, but the paranoia is more enhanced on alpha-PVP than what doctors saw from patients on bath salts, he said. The patient from Thursday couldn’t sit still, Misenar said, and when people walked by his room, he thought they were out to get him. “He left the ER twice. The second time he didn’t come back. His reason for being there was to get off the drug,” Misenar said. Alpha-PVP metabolizes quickly out of the system, and there isn’t a specific detoxification protocol. “You’re detoxed within a few hours of taking it,” Misenar said. “The problem is you get a euphoric feeling of joy (from the drug) that you want to get again. To get it again, you have to take the drug.” But depending on what substance was used to thin down the pure alpha-PVP, there could be harsh damage to the user’s system.
“All the bath salts and molly (another powerful street drug), you’re depending on that chemist that he mixed it correctly. If he’s short one ingredient, they can use anything for filler,” Gregg said. “There have been reports of rat poison being used as a filler.” Gregg and Sheriff Ed Graybeal said officers have responded to several calls about erratic behavior of someone on the drug. “They have a tendency to be very violent. You can’t predict what they’re going to do,” Gregg said. “Like with any drug-related call, you have to judge how they’re acting to determine if need to call medical attention. It’s the same as any drug situation we deal with. We have to gauge it based on what they’re doing,” he said. Graybeal said one key to tamping out alpha-PVP is education — much like what happened when the bath salts influx occurred. “Now that this new stuff is coming out, we’ll be d
oing some education in the schools like we did with the bath salts,” he said. “It’s bath salts, but just in a different form.” He hopes citizens, particularly younger ones, will realize how they could destroy their lives and future by using the drug. “If they’re going to college, have a good job … this will destroy that.”Gregg said the substance is likely coming from different areas. “We’re not sure where it’s coming from. If you have a chemistry background you could probably make this at home,” he said. And if it’s made in a clandestine lab — like meth — “you don’t know if it’s in the United States, Mexico or where it’s done.”
“Anything you buy from a drug dealer, you have no idea of the purity or concentration, which is why it’s so dangerous,” he said. And while the short-term effects are known, “we have very limited reports of long term use,” Misenar said. “But because it’s such a potent stimulant, they’re staying awake, they’re not eating … we’re assuming the long-term effect would be similar to cocaine or methamphetamine.
Whatever the case may be with this new gravel drug, it is definitely making an impact on the state of Tennessee. We will keep up with this to see where it goes. Chances are we will be hearing more about it soon enough and it probably won’t be good.