What exactly are synthetic drugs?
There is no exact definition, because the term is used to describe a wide range of chemical products that are ever-changing. Synthetic marijuana and "bath salts"
are the most common of these drugs. Unlike drugs such as marijuana and cocaine, these drugs do not come from plants; they are manmade.
When did they start appearing in the United States and who's using them?
These drugs first appeared in the United States around 2009, according to Scherbenske, and they have since exploded in popularity, particularly among teenagers.
Social media-savvy teens use the Internet to spread the word about where to find these drugs to -- as Scherbenske explains -- "discuss the effects these substances had on their body."
What's the point of making synthetic drugs?
Synthetic drugs makers have easy access to customers by marketing these drugs as harmless household items. So they make lots of money.
Are these drugs legal?
The federal government and at least 38 states have taken steps to ban the substances. But, as soon as one compound is banned, the molecular structure of the synthetic product is altered and that "changes the whole structure of the drug, so the drug becomes legal and we're at it again," James Capra, DEA chief of operations, said at a news conference in June, according to Time magazine.
Retailers are also skirting the law by labeling the drugs as "not for human consumption," according to the DEA's Scherbenske.
The manufacturers' main goal is to alter the chemical compound to stay one step ahead of the law.
The combination of those compounds and their reactions "is very scary," Scherbenske said.
"We do not know the long term effect that it will have on a person's body."
Who is making this stuff?
Most of the chemicals that are used to make these synthetic drugs are coming directly from China, according to the DEA's John Scherbenske.
Who's selling it here in the U.S.?
Scherbenske says people are starting their own businesses to sell these drugs once they see the profit potential.
These retailers have even taken the feds to court to protect their business: four stores sued the DEA in 2011, claiming the federal agency was "impeding their business," Scherbenske said.