What Is The Spice Drug?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Synthetic Marijuana, also called Spice drug, K2 or Synthetic cannabinoids are human-made mind-altering chemicals that are either sprayed on dried, shredded plant material so they can be smoked or sold as liquids to be vaporized and inhaled in e-cigarettes and other devices. These products are also known as herbal or liquid incense.
These chemicals are called cannabinoids because they are similar to chemicals found in the marijuana plant. Because of this similarity, synthetic cannabinoids are sometimes misleadingly called synthetic marijuana (or fake weed), and they are often marketed as safe, legal alternatives to that drug. They are not safe and may affect the brain much more powerfully than marijuana; their actual effects can be unpredictable and, in some cases, more dangerous or even life-threatening.
Synthetic cannabinoids are part of a group of drugs called new psychoactive substances (NPS). NPS are unregulated mind-altering substances that have become newly available on the market and are intended to produce the same effects as illegal drugs. Some of these substances may have been around for years but have reentered the market in altered chemical forms, or due to renewed popularity.
Manufacturers sell these products in colorful foil packages and plastic bottles to attract consumers. They market these products under a wide variety of specific brand names. For several years, synthetic cannabinoid mixtures have been easy to buy in drug paraphernalia shops, novelty stores, gas stations, and over the internet. Because the chemicals used in them have no medical benefit and a high potential for abuse, authorities have made it illegal to sell, buy, or possess some of these chemicals. However, manufacturers try to sidestep these laws by changing the chemical formulas in their mixtures.
Easy access and the belief that synthetic cannabinoid products are natural and therefore harmless have likely contributed to their use among young people. Another reason for their continued use is that standard drug tests cannot easily detect many of the chemicals used in these products.
According to the DEA, most of the chemicals used in Synthetic Marijuana are manufactured in Asia with no regulations or standards. They are then smuggled to the US, where they are sprinkled on plant material and packaged. Some of these chemicals are legal, though there have been more and more illegal compounds found in Synthetic Marijuana. In 2015, the DEA listed 15 variants of Synthetic Marijuana as Schedule I substances, meaning they are in the same category of drugs as Crack Cocaine and Heroin. Also, the FDA noted that over 75 other compounds have been identified that are not currently controlled. These chemicals range greatly in safety and are not all recommended for consumption.
Spice Drug: Street Names & Places Where It Is Sold
Sold in gas stations, head shops, and online, this drug is often considered a safe and legal alternative to Marijuana despite significant evidence to the contrary. Synthetic Marijuana is marketed as incense or potpourri and is labeled as “not for human consumption.” This marketing loophole allows the substance to be sold legally. The packaging, names, and ingredients of Synthetic Marijuana are inconsistent and vary based on the seller. Because of this, the drug is a moving target for both health officials and police officers hoping to cut down on its negative effects.
Spice and K2 are the most common names for the drug. Other names include:
- Cloud 9
- Yucatan Fire
- Moon Rocks
- Fake Weed
How Do People Use The Spice Drug?
The most common way to use synthetic cannabinoids is to smoke the dried plant material. Users also mix the sprayed plant material with marijuana or brew it as tea. Other users buy synthetic cannabinoid products as liquids to vaporize in e-cigarettes.
Dangers Of The Spice Drug
While it may be easy to brush off some of the harmful side effects of Spice as something that could not happen to you, do not be so sure. Although it may be marketed as synthetic marijuana or a safer form of weed, the Spice drug is dangerous. Spice has been found to be responsible for 11,406 emergency room visits in 2010 alone when the drug was just starting to become popular in the United States. The number of calls to poison control centers due to synthetic cannabinoids also peaked in 2015 with 7,792 calls.
One of the biggest dangers of synthetic marijuana is that these products can contain many different ingredients in various amounts. The result may be a different mixture or combination in every product, and with hundreds of synthetic cannabinoids out there, the consumer can never be too sure exactly what they are getting. The result could be an overdose because the person doesn’t know how much they have taken or how strong the drug is. The Spice drug may even be laced with toxic substances or other abused drugs that can cause even more severe health problems.
How Does The Spice Drug Affect The Brain?
Spice Drugs or Synthetic cannabinoids act on the same brain cell receptors as THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), the mind-altering ingredient in marijuana. So far, there have been few scientific studies of the effects of synthetic cannabinoids on the human brain, but researchers do know that some of them bind more strongly than marijuana to the cell receptors affected by THC and can produce much stronger effects. The resulting health effects can be unpredictable and dangerous.
Because the chemical composition of many synthetic cannabinoid products is unknown and may change from batch to batch, these products are likely to contain substances that cause dramatically different effects than the user might expect. Spice Drug users report some effects similar to those produced by marijuana:
- Altered perception: awareness of surrounding objects and conditions
- Elevated mood
- Symptoms of psychosis: delusional or disordered thinking detached from reality
Psychotic Effects Of The Spice Drug
- Paranoia: extreme and unreasonable distrust of others
- Extreme anxiety
- Hallucinations: sensations and images that seem real though they are not
Spice Drug Effects
People who have used synthetic cannabinoids and have been taken to emergency rooms have shown severe effects including:
- Rapid heart rate
- Violent behavior
- Suicidal thoughts
Is The Spice Drug Addictive?
Yes, synthetic cannabinoids can be addictive. Regular users trying to quit may have the following withdrawal symptoms:
Can You Overdose On The Spice Drug?
Yes. An overdose occurs when a person uses too much of a drug and has a dangerous reaction that results in serious, harmful symptoms or death. Use of the spice drug can cause:
- Toxic reactions
- Elevated blood pressure
- Reduced blood supply to the heart
- Kidney damage
Deaths can also occur when dangerous synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, are added to the packaged mixture without the user knowing it.
Signs Of The Spice Drug Addiction
Continued abuse of Synthetic Marijuana can lead to a psychological and physical addiction to it. Synthetic Marijuana’s mind-altering properties are similar to those of Marijuana; although Marijuana is commonly touted as being non-addictive, the clinical definition of addiction proves otherwise. There are 11 signs of addiction outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Someone struggling with a Synthetic Marijuana addiction may want to stop using it but continue anyway, or use it even in dangerous circumstances.
Spice Drug Addiction And Treatment Statistics
- Spice is the second most commonly abused illegal drug (after Marijuana) among high schoolers.
- In 2010, 11,406 emergency room visits were associated with Spice Drug use.
- Approximately 75 percent of these ER visits were among young people aged 12-29.
The Legality Of K2 Or Spice Drug
Although the DEA has attempted to regulate the creation and distribution of Synthetic Marijuana, its biggest struggle has been staying ahead of the compounds that make up the drug. Ingredients with names like JWH-018, JWH-073, HU-210, and M-694 have developed nearly as quickly as they can be outlawed. By slightly altering the chemical structure, Synthetic Marijuana distributors have been able to continue selling this dangerous drug.
Treatment For Spice Drug Addiction
As with any powerful drug, it is possible to become addicted to Spice. Continuous users may experience withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop, and studies have shown even users who have bad experiences on the drug keep looking for more. The withdrawal symptoms of Synthetic Marijuana are generally the same as those for Marijuana and include nausea, diarrhea, anxiety, anger, aggression, irritability, insomnia, decreased appetite, and cravings.
Spice Drug Addiction is a serious condition that can cause severe health, social and economic problems that should not be taken lightly. We Level Up Treatment Center can provide you, or someone you love, the tools to recover from the effects of the Spice Drug with professional and safe treatment. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition by giving you relevant information. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.