Benzo Fury is a street name given to any of a number of chemical compounds – most commonly 5-APB or 6-APB – of the substituted benzofuran (the origin of the name “Benzo Fury”; not to be confused with benzodiazepines, which have very different effects), substituted amphetamine and substituted phenethylamine classes, taken recreationally for their euphoric and stimulant effects, which are somewhat similar to those produced by ecstasy and amphetamine.
Previously considered a “legal high” or “research chemical”, Benzo Fury – also known as “White Pearl” is now illegal in the UK along with other former “legal highs”, but continues to be used and abused in the clubbing and rave scene. Benzo Fury is usually available in tablet or powder form and can be swallowed or snorted. Research into the properties and effects of Benzo Fury has been relatively limited due to its comparative infancy as a recreational drug and its somewhat limited availability compared with other more mainstream substances; however, it is associated with a number of unpleasant and dangerous side effects and has been a factor in a number of deaths in the UK and elsewhere.
As noted above, there is currently very limited understanding of the effects of Benzo Fury, and even less about its prevalence in the UK marketplace following the 2014 criminalisation of “legal highs” (or new psychoactive substances (NPS), to give their correct name). During the wave of media attention which preceded the government’s 2014 action, Benzo Fury was one of the few NPSs incontrovertibly linked with the deaths of drug users, with at least 10 deaths involving Benzo Fury to some extent in the four years leading up to 2014.
Anecdotally, benzofuran usage has decreased considerably since it was made illegal – the appeal of NPSs to suppliers having been drastically reduced – but hard statistics are simply impossible to come by as government agencies tend to class all NPSs together in reporting. Of those people who died after taking Benzo Fury, eight out of ten were male, and the average age was 25, indicating a similar demographic to other stimulants popular in the clubbing and rave scene; again, however, firm details are not available to show how widely, if at all, Benzo Fury use is spreading to other demographics.
Benzo Fury is not known to be physically addictive; as with most other stimulants and nearly all hallucinogens, any addiction is primarily psychological in nature. The short-term effects of the drug are similar to those of ecstasy, and the “high” – which can last for up to twleve hours, with effects peaking after around two or three hours – includes feelings of great empathy, heighten sensations, greatly increased energy levels and mild hallucinatory effects. Negative side-effects include hypertension, increased body temperature and heart rate; nausea and vomiting; headaches; chest pains; anxiety and panic; impaired decision-making; confusion; and paranoia.
Alongside long-term consequences for an addict’s physical and mental health (see below), addiction to Benzo Fury can have terrible ramifications for their life prospects and relationships with others. As it is now a criminal offence to possess Benzo Fury, users risk police and/or court action, with fines or even imprisonment possible – with obvious implications for professional life and potentially for the integrity of the user’s family (for example, losing custody of their children). As an addict becomes increasingly obsessed with Benzo Fury, previously treasured activities, ambitions and goals may fade into irrelevance; they may lose contact with friends or loved ones who are not able to bear their addiction and its impact upon their personality, and isolation (and depression) may result.
As with many drugs popular in the rave scene, Benzo Fury use is often betrayed by a number of physical signs including dilated pupils; clenching and/or grinding teeth; greatly increase chattiness – often nonsensical; a pronounced need for tactile contact (often inappropriate); sweating; and great thirst. They may, of course, also display any of the negative side-effects listed above. In the days following consumption of Benzo Fury, the user may experience a “comedown” featuring pronounced lethargy and a very low mood possibly, reaching into depression.
While, again, an understanding of the long-term consequences of Benzo Fury abuse is limited, it is associated with several serious consequences for both physical and mental health. Liver and kidney damage, heart attack, stroke, cardiovascular complaints and dental damage may all result from prolonged use, as may cognitive impairment, memory loss and poor concentration. Meanwhile, paranoia and psychosis have also been associated with long-term use of benzofurans; Users may experience bouts of extreme confusion and agitation, possibly many weeks or even months after the last dose, and hallucinations – possibly prompting acts of violence or self-harm – have also been reported. Benzofuran abuse has also been associated with major depressive disorder, both as a consequence of the drug’s direct effects and as a withdrawal symptom.
Because Benzo Fury is such a comparatively new drug, and because its availability is by no means as widespread as other more mainstream substances, there is not the same depth of experience within the medical community of treating benzofuran addiction as is the case with those other drugs. However, residential rehabilitation – “rehab” – has long been established as the most successful long-term treatment for Benzo Fury addiction. At rehab, addicts are able to receive treatment – including medically assisted detoxification (see below) and a broad range of therapies – in an attractive and calm environment in which they can concentrate wholly upon their recovery without the distractions and temptations of the outside world.
As with other stimulants and hallucinogens, the psychological nature of Benzo Fury addiction means that therapy is crucial to getting to the bottom of the various causes of addiction, and to providing the addict defence mechanisms allowing them to stay clean long-term and to avoid relapse. At rehab, an addict will have access to a variety of different therapy models including one-to-one and group therapy settings, to provide them with different perspectives on their addiction, and with advice and support from others who have also gone through the nightmare of benzofuran addiction.
Any addiction treatment needs to begin with a period of detoxification (“detox”) and withdrawal: Benzo Fury addiction is associated with a number of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms including extreme anxiety and irritability; insomnia; paranoia; delusions and hallucinations; and depression. In order to ensure the safety of an addict going through withdrawal from Benzo Fury, a medically assisted detox is always advisable. In rehab, a highly qualified medical team will be on hand 24/7, to make sure that the addict goes through detox and withdrawal as safely and as comfortable as possible. Detoxing from any drug alone can be extremely dangerous and it is vital that a GP and/or an addiction specialist is consulted before embarking upon any independent withdrawal.
Addiction ruins lives, and even without the risk of overdose – which is certainly a factor in benzofuran addiction – can prove fatal as depression leads into suicidal ideation, as the addict despairs at the damage their addiction has wrought upon their life. However, help is at hand: no matter how intense or protracted you may feel your addiction to be, and no matter how much damage you think it may already have done to your life prospects and relationships, as long as you are alive it is never too late to overcome your addiction and to get back onto a path towards happiness, success and fulfilment.
The first step, as everyone knows, is always the hardest – but if you are ready to acknowledge your addiction and are determined to beat it, potentially life-saving assistance is only a phone call away. Our addiction specialists are waiting for that call – so reach out today and take that first crucial step towards turning your life around and leaving your addiction behind you forever.