Cloud 9: A Dangerous New Synthetic Drug
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Cloud 9: A Dangerous New Synthetic Drug

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

January 23, 2019

Over the last decade or so, the United States has been faced with a growing trend of people using legal synthetic chemicals to get high. One, in particular, is a type of bath salt called Cloud 9. When abused it can cause chest pains, hallucinations, or even suicidal thoughts.

What Is Cloud 9 And How Is It Abused?

Cloud 9 is a type of cathinone that has been popularized as a synthetic designer drug, and is commonly used as an e-cig vapor. It often appears as a clear liquid with a slightly fruity smell. When abused, Cloud 9 can lead to hallucinations, agitation, vomiting, seizures, heart problems, and stroke. Other synthetic drugs like Cloud 9 can be chemically laced, and sold over the counter at tobacco shops, department stores, and gas stations.  

The two most common types of synthetic drugs are cannabinoids and cathinones. Cannabinoids include drugs like K2, and Spice. Cathinones include bath salts, and often have a similar chemical makeup to cocaine and crystal meth—thereby making them popular among drug users.

Oftentimes synthetics are conspicuously stored next to rolling papers, cigars, smoking pipes, and sold as e-cig liquids.

Cloud 9 and other bath salts often take on street names such as these:

  • Bliss
  • Bloom
  • Blue Silk
  • Drone
  • Energy-1
  • Flakka
  • Ivory Wave
  • Lunar Wave
  • Meow Meow
  • Ocean Burst
  • Pure Ivory
  • Purple Wave
  • Red Dove
  • Scarface
  • Snow Leopard
  • Stardust
  • Vanilla Sky
  • White Dove
  • White Knight
  • White Lightning

Through chemical testing, it has been discovered that Cloud 9 contained an ingredient methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), even though it isn’t always listed on the ingredients.  MDPV is not approved for medical use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It’s actually quite dangerous, and a major problem has been that bath salts containing MDPV don’t always show up on drug tests, so some people abuse them as an alternative for getting high.

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How Do People Abuse Cloud 9?

Like a lot of other synthetic drugs, Cloud 9 isn’t meant to be used to get high, or to alter a person’s mood for that matter. But still the effects are similar to those of cocaine, MDMA (ecstasy and molly), and amphetamines. Users commonly snort Cloud 9, inject it into their veins, vape it from an e-cig, or swallow it. Some people may even use Cloud 9 as a suppository.

The high will vary, depending on the route of administration. A person may feel the effects of  Cloud 9 within minutes after snorting the drug, and anywhere between 15 and 45 minutes when taking it orally. The high from Cloud 9 can last anywhere from 3 to 5 hours, however when taken in large doses the adverse effects can last up to 6 days.

What Is The Scope Of Cloud 9 Abuse In The United States?

Across the United States, Cloud 9 has showed up on the shelves of convenience stores to be used in e-cigs and other tobacco products. In September 2014, Lester Holt of NBC News reported that Cloud 9 “prompted one county (in Michigan) to issue an emergency order banning its sale as an imminent danger to public health.” Unfortunately, the drug is still on the market in most places.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, “federal, state and local law enforcement officials encountered MDPV in 49 states and the District of Columbia since 2009. The number of MDPV reports increased from two in 2009 to 380 in 2010 and to 3,625 in 2011. In 2012, the number of MDPV reports decreased slightly to 3,377.”

If you or someone you love is suffering from an addiction to cathinones or bath salts, it’s a serious issue, and needs to be treated promptly. According to NIDA for Teens, “in 2011, bath salts were reported in close to 23,000 emergency room visits.”

What Are The Dangers Of Cloud 9?

One thing that makes synthetic drugs so dangerous is that they’re unregulated, easily obtained, and oftentimes legal. Drugs like Cloud 9 are falsely marketed as bath salts, plant food, and/or research chemicals and can even be purchased on the Internet. Companies are able to dodge legal issues by cautioning “not for human consumption,” or “for novelty use only” on the package.

Though Cloud 9 isn’t just dangerous because of its availability. It’s dangerous, because it gives the user severe hallucinations that can last for an undetermined amount of time. Bath salts have been known to cause a zombie like euphoria, and what’s worse, most of us don’t know how to help someone in these situations. It’s important to remember that even though the drug is partially in control, someone who is high on Cloud 9 is still a human being—they’re still your friend, or family member.

It might help you understand the potential danger of Cloud 9, or what a person high on Cloud 9 looks like. Note that Cloud 9 can lead to serious, sometimes life-threatening situations, that require immediate medical assistance.

Some of the effects of Cloud 9 include:

  • feelings of empathy
  • stimulation
  • sexual arousal
  • sociability
  • alertness
  • euphoria
  • awareness of senses
  • tachycardia – rapid heart beat
  • hypertension
  • vasoconstriction – constriction of blood vessels
  • sweating
  • anxiety
  • chest pains
  • emotional instability
  • headaches
  • heart problems
  • insomnia
  • paranoia
  • psychotic hallucinations
  • sore jaw
  • prolonged panic attacks
  • bouts of psychosis
  • addiction
  • death

Is Cloud 9 Addictive?

Many synthetic drugs like Cloud 9 are highly addictive, and “users have reported that the drugs cause an intense urge to use the drug again. Frequent use may cause tolerance (a person needs to take more to feel the same effects), dependence, and strong withdrawal symptoms when not taking the drug,” (NIDA for Teens).

Cloud 9 has also been reported to be stronger than cocaine, but again, the availability of the drug is a big part of what makes it such a serious problem. It can be found in smoke shops, drug paraphernalia shops, and department stores. There’s no denying the danger of Cloud 9, but there’s a safe solution for someone who can’t stop using it alone.

Keep in mind that a lot of people who’ve become addicted to drugs might not see it as a problem, and may become defensive when approached about their addiction. It’s also important to remember that if  you wish to confront someone about their perceived problem with drugs to make the drug the problem, and not the person the problem.

Remember that someone with an addiction is suffering from a disease that’s characterized by an obsession and compulsion to use drugs, and may need as much care and support as possible. From the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “drugs change the brain in ways that make quitting hard, even for those who want to.”

Some families find an intervention to be helpful. This can show a person with an addiction that they’re not only hurting themselves, but also the people they love. During a drug intervention, a person suffering from addiction is also given a chance to see that there’s a solution, and that they have options such as inpatient rehab, support groups, or behavioral therapy.

Behavioral therapies and counseling at an inpatient rehab center will provide a safe environment to teach patients healthy coping skills, how to express emotion, how to love others, and how to love themselves. Therapies may include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy
  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Mindfulness and Stress Management

Inpatient rehab centers also offer a space that will be conducive to overcoming the obsession and compulsion to use drugs. Finding the right drug rehab for your loved one is an important step to their recovery.

Get Help Today

If you or your loved one is struggling with an addiction to Cloud 9, contact a treatment specialist at today. We can work together to find a solution.

Drug Enforcement Administration - Drug and Chemical Evaluation Section

National Broadcasting Company News - Synthetic Drug Cloud 9 Linked To Several Hospitalizations

National Institute on Drug Abuse - Addiction Science

NIDA for Teens - Bath Salts

One Response to “Cloud 9: A Dangerous New Synthetic Drug”

I am a recovered addict and spend lots of time trying to help others the more i know about drugs the more i can do to help.I read most ever thing i can find about drugs and their use and dangers.Thank you for letting me share

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