What is Synthetic Marijuana?
- 1 What is Synthetic Marijuana?
- 2 The Misconceptions of “Spice”
- 3 How is Synthetic Marijuana a Dangerous Drug?
- 4 How Addictive is K2 Spice?
- 5 Who Abuses Synthetic Marijuana?
- 6 Recognizing the Signs of Drug Abuse
- 7 What are the Side Effects of Spice Abuse?
- 8 Can You Overdose on Synthetic Marijuana?
- 9 Synthetic Marijuana Addiction Treatment Methods
- 10 The Importance of Medical Detox in Spice Addiction Treatment
- 11 Find Top Addiction Treatment Options Nationwide Now
Synthetic Marijuana, also known as “K2/Spice,” is a blend of synthetically-produced mind-altering chemicals that can be sprayed onto dried plant materials and smoked. K2 Spice mixtures may also be sold as an injectable liquid or inhalable inscensce.
When used, synthetic cannabinoids can produce psychoactive effects similar to those of marijuana, such as elevated mood, giddiness, hallucinations, and more. However, it can also have far more intense negative effects than those caused by natural cannabis.
These “fake weed” products are typically marketed as a safe and legal alternative to natural marijuana, a commonly abused illegal drug. However, this is a false advertisement, as synthetic marijuana use can actually pose a greater risk than its non-synthetic counterpart.
The Various Names of Synthetic Marijuana
In addition to K2/Spice, synthetic marijuana is also sold under various other names. Almost every single year, a new regulation is passed in an attempt to curtail Synthetic Marijuana availability; in response, new blends are created under different names.
Some of these “fake weed” names have even been chosen from cartoons, resulting from the vast interest that young adults have taken in this drug. While there have been over 700 total recorded names, the most commonly known are:
- Scooby Snacks
- Nice Guy
The Misconceptions of “Spice”
There are several misconceptions about K2 Spice, such as that it is “safer” for human consumption than non-synthetic weed. This is because synthetic cannabinoid mixtures are easy to acquire, able to be purchased legally at smoke shops, gas stations, and various other stores.
Furthermore, K2 Spice products are generally marketed as being “natural,” rather than man-made. This has led many Spice users to believe that their habits of substance abuse are less risky than if they were to abuse other, explicitly-illicit drugs.
This belief is particularly common amongst young people, such as high school and college students, who may not be able to acquire other, harder-to-access psychoactive substances; this may be even more prominent amongst those struggling with mental illness.
How is Synthetic Marijuana a Dangerous Drug?
Synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists (synthetic cannabinoids) are part of an unregulated group of drugs called new psychoactive substances (NPS), which aim to produce the same effects as various illicit drugs.
These have recently become increasingly available in the public market, even despite various legal restrictions being put into place in light of increased research on their various dangerous effects.
The chemical makeup of synthetic cannabinoids can change based on their manufacturer, as well as on a batch-to-batch basis. This makes them highly dangerous for human consumption, as there is no way of knowing what chemicals have gone into a specific mixture.
Furthermore, most drug tests cannot detect many of the substances used to produce many synthetic cannabinoids. Thus, there is truly no way of determining what or how much a chemical has been consumed when a person chooses to use Spice.
How Addictive is K2 Spice?
K2 Spice can be just as addictive as any other mood or mind-altering drug. The longer an individual continues their Spice abuse, the more likely they are to develop a dependency on or addiction to this drug.
When used, synthetic cannabinoids bind to receptors in your brain, often in ways that have been found to be stronger and more intense than when using natural marijuana. Over time, the brain’s chemical structure will adapt to the regular use of this substance.
Once this happens, the person will be dependent upon these synthetic cannabinoids in order to be able to function properly. In other words, they will have developed a Spice addiction, with their brain equating this drug use to that of needing food or water to survive.
This is a particularly significant issue for young adults, whose brains are still developing. Because it is such a powerful drug, repeatedly consuming Spice can have a significant impact on their physical and cognitive development; one, unfortunately, that may not be reversible.
Who Abuses Synthetic Marijuana?
Synthetic Marijuana users come from all walks of life, and many start out as regular Cannabis users. Most Marijuana smokers seek out K2 Spice as a way to get around standard drug tests, or the legal consequences of Marijuana possession.
As the number of cannabis users generally outranks those of every other illicit drug, this provides a huge range of potential synthetic marijuana users.
With that being said, some of the most common users include high school students (particularly high school seniors) and other young adults, armed services personnel, job seekers, corporate personnel, and people going through the Drug Court process.
Those struggling with mental health conditions are also more prone to substance abuse, as they may try to self-medicate the negative thoughts and feelings caused by their mental illness with drugs or alcohol.
This, unfortunately, is rarely ever an effective solution and, in the long-term, may only end up worsening existing or causing the development of new mental disorders.
Recognizing the Signs of Drug Abuse
Although it is never easy to accept that you or a loved one may be struggling with addiction, it is absolutely necessary in order to be able to start seeking out professional recovery support and treatment services.
There are several signs that can be looked out for when attempting to determine whether someone may be struggling with K2 Spice addiction. These will typically mirror the tell-tale signs of several other forms of substance abuse, and may include:
- Spending large amounts of time and money acquiring, using, or recovering from the effects of synthetic marijuana.
- Experiencing persistent problems with family members and within other personal relationships due to synthetic cannabis use.
- Neglecting important work, home, or school responsibilities in order to continue using synthetic marijuana.
- Giving up previously enjoyable hobbies or social activities due to synthetic marijuana use.
- Continuing to use synthetic cannabinoids despite this behavior potentially worsening or leading to the development of new physical and mental health issues.
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when attempting to reduce or stop synthetic marijuana usage.
What are the Side Effects of Spice Abuse?
Synthetic Marijuana can produce a wide range of side effects for a user. Some of the more “desirable” effects that draw in Spice users are euphoria, altered perception, relaxation and sedation, and hallucinations.
While these effects may be enjoyable for a short time, the various additional negative consequences of Spice abuse greatly outweigh them. Once addicted, synthetic marijuana’s chemical makeup can rapidly destroy your body and mind.
Synthetic marijuana abuse comes with a multitude of side effects, ranging from mild to disastrous in nature. Unlike with real cannabis, countless deaths related to synthetic marijuana have been reported and documented.
As the chemical blend that is used in the compound often changes in an attempt to dodge certain regulations, the list of side effects is ever-growing and almost impossible to keep track of. Some of the most prevalent side effects resulting from synthetic marijuana abuse include:
- Heart Palpitations
- Heart Attacks
- Suicidal Ideations
In addition to these side effects, there are various other physical and psychosocial symptoms that may develop as a result of using Spice.
The physical effects of Synthetic Marijuana addiction are terrifying. As users do not have a way to truly know what they are ingesting, the resulting issues can range from minor pains to emergency care necessity level, even becoming fatal in extreme cases.
Some of the most commonly reported physical effects of Spice use and abuse are:
- Chest Pains
- Muscle Spasms
- Kidney Damage
Many Spice users have ended up in emergency rooms, often mentally broken, unaware of who or where they are, or in a complete state of psychosis. This is because of the intense psychological effects this drug can produce, including:
- Panic Attacks
- Mood Changes
- Suicidal Thoughts
- Thoughts of Self Harm
- Severe Paranoia
Can You Overdose on Synthetic Marijuana?
Because of the inconsistency of Spice’s chemical structure, taking too much of this drug can have unpredictable consequences. One of these is fatal overdose; a tragic reality that has come to pass for far too many Spice users, according to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
With these increasing numbers, it is important to know how to recognize the sign of a Spice overdose, as getting immediate assistance can be life-saving. These warning signs may include:
- Heart attack
Synthetic Marijuana Addiction Treatment Methods
There are several treatment options available for those attempting to overcome a Spice addiction. While this recovery process will vary on a case-by-case basis, synthetic marijuana addiction treatment will generally include:
Furthermore, individuals with co-occurring substance use and mental disorders will be encouraged to seek out dual diagnosis treatment services. These may be provided through inpatient treatment options, as well as outpatient recovery programs.
This level of care may involve participating in group, family, or individual therapy sessions, as well as behavioral therapy services. These can help individuals address both their Spice addiction, and the potential underlying causes of these substance use habits.
Speaking with a healthcare provider or addiction experts, such as the Find Addiction Rehabs representatives, can help narrow down which treatment options will best serve your personal care needs.
The Importance of Medical Detox in Spice Addiction Treatment
If a person suddenly chooses to drastically reduce or completely stop their K2 Spice use, they may begin to experience withdrawal symptoms. These can be extremely uncomfortable, and may make it feel impossible to stop using on one’s own.
This is why most people who are overcoming a Spice addiction will be encouraged to participate in a medical detox program. This will allow them to be gradually weaned off of an abused substance in a clinically controlled and safe environment.
Medically supervised Spice detox can help manage and even prevent withdrawal symptoms from occurring. Furthermore, they may involve the administration of certain addiction medicines which can help further reduce relapse risk factors, such as drug cravings.
Synthetic Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms
Someone who is experiencing Spice withdrawal may develop a number of intense and unpleasant psychological and physical symptoms. These may include:
- Intense hunger with an inability to keep food down
- Hot and cold flashes
- Flu-like symptoms
- Extreme anxiety
- Extreme lethargy
- Violent emotional outbursts and temper tantrums
- Self-isolating behavior
- Intense drug cravings
Find Top Addiction Treatment Options Nationwide Now
If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to Spice, or any other drugs, and are ready to seek treatment, know that you are not alone, and help IS available. At Find Addiction Rehabs, we are dedicated to connecting people like you with the recovery tools and resources you need.
Our hotline is available 24/7 to help find a professional addiction treatment provider and drug rehab facility that will serve all of your personal care needs, whenever you are ready to take that first step to recovery.
So make the right choice, and call now, so that we can help you get started on your path to addiction recovery, where you can achieve a happier, healthier, and successfully sober you, today!
Nicole R. is an experienced and accomplished writer with special interests in the fields of Anthropology, English, and behavioral health, and has written countless articles for newspaper publications, institutional research journals, and Find Addiction Rehabs.
Her alma matter is Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. Nicole hopes to spread awareness of and combat the stigmatization surrounding addiction and substance abuse treatment through her writing and work in the field.