Use of synthetic drugs is expanding around the world, according to a new report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
Almost 350 new psychoactive substances have been identified, the BBC reports.
The report notes new supply routes and production centers for methamphetamines have been found in West Africa and Iran. Last year, there were more than 110 types of synthetic marijuana, up from around 60 in the middle of 2012, according to the report.
Many people who buy synthetic drugs believe they are purchasing more common substances such as Ecstasy.
They are mixing different types of drugs. Synthetic drugs may be tainted by other substances, causing additional complications.
As a result, emergency services may find themselves unable to identify life-threatening substances, and to administer the proper medical treatment.
"There is a dynamic and unprecedented global expansion of the synthetic drugs market both in scope and variety," Jean-Luc Lemahieu, Director for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs at UNODC, said in a news release. "New substances are quickly created and marketed, challenging law enforcement efforts to keep up with the traffickers and curb public health risks."
Because there is no international framework that deals with synthetic drugs, responses to the problem vary greatly from nation to nation, the UNODC said.