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The Negative Side Effects of Spice Abuse: What You Need to Know About Synthetic Marijuana

Synthetic marijuana is more commonly known as “K2” or “Spice” and has several other nicknames just like any other drug.  Aside from the negative side effects we know about, there are many other reasons why synthetic cannabis is so dangerous. One of the most obvious reasons why Spice is so harmful is that this drug is comprised of tea leaves or other herbs sprayed with chemicals.  Furthermore, we aren’t privy to what all of these chemicals are.  Not knowing what exactly is being smoked and introduced to ones bloodstream is scary at best. Synthetic Marijuana/Cannabis AbuseThe most common side effects are: rapid heart rate, hallucinations, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, disorientation or loss of balance, paranoia, tremors and even seizures.  Of course there is the euphoria that Spice users deem to outweigh the negatives.  A study in 2012 showed that Spice is the second most used illicit drug in the United States, just behind marijuana. This drug is so easily obtainable; it’s sold in “head shops” and even gas stations as well as online.  Spice is often marketed as incense or potpourri as a way to legally stay on the shelves at legitimate businesses.  It’s as easy to purchase as cigarettes. We can’t keep up with what exactly the drug even is!  The chemicals are always changing to keep up with FDA regulations & to produce a more powerful and addictive high.  This, compounded with the fact that we don’t know the actual chemical makeup of this drug is, makes the short and long term effects of the drug unpredictable.  When the FDA deems a certain brand of Spice to be illegal and performs a sweep throughout the businesses that sell it, the producers simply go back to the drawing board and use different (and often more) chemicals in order to stay in the game.  It should be noted that since the chemicals are always evolving, there is no sure-fire way to detect Spice using even the most advanced drug tests. So, if parents suspect their children are using but also passing drug tests, Spice may be a factor. The research done on various popular forms of Spice in 2012 found 158 different substances within one sample.  The research from three years prior found 51 different substances on a comparable sample of Spice.  This shows that within three years the amount of chemicals Spice was once comprised of tripled.  The FDA suggests that Spice is a much closer relative to amphetamines, or speed, than THC—the active ingredient in marijuana. Finally, there is the ever-so-controversial gateway drug theory.  We’ve covered that Spice is extremely easy to obtain and cheap.  We’ve discussed how Spice is actually ~200 different drugs sprayed into one, virtually impossible to drug test for, a closer relative to amphetamines than THC, the harmful side effects, the unknowns or the evolution of the drug itself, negative side effects… It is easy to see why one kind of euphoria can lead to another.  That’s what any drug user is looking for.  Sure, we’re all trying to escape something and cope with life (whether it be anxiety, depression or the like) by self-medicating, but the fact remains: euphoria feels good!  And to a drug addict, that feeling is addictive no matter what the vehicle.  So if that kind of feeling can be achieved by smoking Spice, it is only a matter of time before another more powerful substance is sought after despite the negative consequences associated with the drug.  Specific to Spice, what we’re talking about is a weaker version of amphetamines.  When a more powerful version of amphetamines is discovered, that will simply become the preference to any amphetamine user.  Pay attention to the word more: why would an amphetamine user want fewer amphetamines?  If there was ever a single word to summarize active drug action, it would be “more.”  Being in the drug treatment field myself, I’ve seen scores of young men whose primary drug was Spice, only to move on to more powerful substances in a very short period of time.  I will argue that this is always the case, as Spice generally targets, and is available to, young people who simply haven’t been able to obtain other drugs with such ease yet.  A more powerful, more euphoric drug is always the goal; whether the user realizes it or not, his or her brain is desperately seeking for more.  It is only a matter of time before the introduction is made. If you suspect your child to have an addiction to Spice, it’s critical you reach out and get the proper help.  Rehab centers and addiction treatment programs understand how to specifically treat this type of dependency, and get your child back on a track to recovery.   Image CreditImage Credit