The term “synthetic marijuana” is actually misleading, though common. It refers to a whole class of substances known as cannabinoid receptor agonists.
Marijuana refers to the dried out buds of the actual plant, which got most of its psychoactive result via THC. On the other hand, synthetic marijuana got the term from the effect it has on the different types of cannabinoid brain receptors.
Understanding Synthetic Marijuana
When you pour a packet of synthetic marijuana like K2 or Spice into your palm, you’ll see that it looks like real marijuana. The dehydrated and dried out stems and leaves may look inert and may also originate from such psychoactive plant as Wild Dagga. These plants are usually polluted with salmonella, pesticides, molds, and heavy and dangerous metals.
Then again, synthetic marijuana is not in any way natural. It is shipped in bulk to different countries like the US but is manufactured overseas. Upon reaching the US, they are then thawed and mixed with the dried leaves or vegetation that absorbs all the liquid and moisture. Since the process is not accurate, the doses and effects per pack or per batch can vary greatly.
There are plenty of synthetic cannabinoids that exist and all of these can rouse cannabinoid type receptors just like how it is with natural marijuana’s active components. These are the receptors that produce the high at varying intensities and duration.
Most of the issues occur because some of the synthetic parts rouse the non-cannabinoid receptors, thus creating unexpected effects. The other source of the problem is the fact that there’s no way of knowing which specific synthetic cannabinoids are present in the one that you purchased.
Synthetic Marijuana Abuse and Effects
The major risk in using synthetic cannabinoids is the fact that it can be mixed with other substances, like opioids, metals, sawdust, or worse, rat poison. You never know for sure what’s in it. This also means that the adverse effects to the body can range from mental to physical.
For us to know whether or not a friend or a loved one is abusing synthetic cannabinoids, it is very important to pay close attention to some signs and red flags pointing at the direction of substance abuse. Below are a few symptoms that may suggest synthetic cannabinoid abuse, and that tell that treatment is necessary to avoid further harm and damage to the person.
Changes in Behavior:
- Decreased ability to function properly at work
- Engaging in dangerous activities
- Poor performance in school or at work
- Rigid and catatonic actions and behavior
- Slurred and slowed speech pace
- Sudden energy surge
- Sudden lack of energy
- Violent outbursts
Physical manifestations of symptoms:
- Changes in blood pressure
- Elevated body temperature
- Fast heartbeat
- Irregular sweating
- Numbness in the upper and lower torso
- Recurring chest pains
- Sudden muscle contractions and spasms
- Sudden panic attacks
How do synthetic cannabinoids affect the users brain?
Natural marijuana and synthetic marijuana have one similarity. They both work on the same receptors as tetrahydrocannabinol which is the known potent and mind-altering component in marijuana.
As for now, there are a number of studies focusing on the effects of synthetic marijuana to the brain, however, proponents of these studies know that the synthetic kind binds more tightly and strappingly to the brain cell receptor that gets affected by THC, thus creating a more potent effect. Given this, the adverse effects can likewise be stronger, more dangerous, and more erratic.
Also, since the chemical made-up of most of the synthetic types are unknown and the effects change from the pack to pack and by batch, these drugs are more likely to produce more dramatic and more dangerous side effects.
These are a few of the effects experienced by synthetic cannabinoid users that are known to be similar to the effects of marijuana:
- Altered discernment and perceptions of reality
- Enhanced alertness of sounds and objects that are surrounding
- Feeling relaxed
- Improved mood
- Indications and signs of psychosis—muddled or delusional thinking and feelings of being disconnected from reality
These are the reported psychotic effects of synthetic marijuana:
- Extreme apprehension
- Paranoia or extreme and irrational suspicion of others
- Delusions—vibrations and imageries that appear real but are not
Other health effects of synthetic cannabinoids
Due to the fact that synthetic marijuana is a fairly new drug, even the DEA is not 100% sure of its long-term risks and other negative health effects. What’s certain is the worst and the most distressing effect of Spice addiction is sudden death.
These are a few of the additional effects of chronic spice abuse:
- Having suicidal thoughts and exhibiting disturbing behaviors
- Heart attack
- Incapacity to mentally and emotionally hold on to a job, responsibility, or relationships
- Irreparable cerebral damage
- Risk of self-harm
In most cases, people who are struggling with substance abuse are known to be also struggling with a mental condition.
These are a few of the mental health disorders that can co-occur with substance abuse:
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Behavior disorder
- Depressive disorders
- Oppositional defiant syndrome
- Panic Anxiety disorders
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Schizophrenic personality
If you combine all these side effects both to the body and to one’s mental state, you can conclude that synthetic marijuana is not something you should play with. The high you get out of taking it cannot pay for the extent of damage it can cause your body, your mind, and your life.
Are Synthetic Cannabinoids Addictive?
Based on the discussion above, it can be safely said that synthetic cannabinoids can become addictive. As a matter of fact, regular Spice users who are trying to break away from the habit have experienced these withdrawal symptoms:
- Pounding headaches
- Sadness and depression
Aside from these, synthetic marijuana is also reported to raise one’s blood pressure, which in turn causes the reduction of blood supply to the heart, seizures, and damaged kidneys. This is apart from the fact that synthetic marijuana use is also related to the increase in the number of deaths.
Though marijuana, in itself, is not on the list of more addictive substances, frequent use and use for a prolonged period of time can be habit-forming. Users of the synthetic kind have reported withdrawal symptoms and cravings when they attempted to stop taking the drug.
Being labeled as the gateway drug, rehabilitation is the best solution to synthetic marijuana addiction. Actually, even if the addiction is not a full-blown one, it would be better and beneficial to the user to submit himself to rehab.
In order to get the best treatment program, it is best to have yourself assessed and evaluated properly. The ideal treatment plan should be something that is flexible to the changing needs of the patient.
Synthetic Marijuana Statistics
In a report published by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, K2 or Spice is second on the list of most commonly used illicit drug. The first on the list is marijuana. In a separate report published by the National Institute on Drug Abuselast year, it was revealed that male high school students are twice more likely to use synthetic marijuana compared to female high school senior students.
In spite of the ban on this illicit drug, recent news show tragic cases of users suffering from the toxic effects of the drug. Last year, from January to June alone, almost 1,000 cases of synthetic marijuana poisoning had been recorded.
The Legality of K2, Spice
It’s ironic to know that despite the rising number of cases of synthetic marijuana poisoning and overdose, purchasing this drug is actually legal.
In some countries, like Australia, there is a blanket ban on drugs like synthetic marijuana, despite its ingredients and chemical composition. In the United States, though the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) banned a few chemicals and compounds creating synthetic marijuana, the manufacturers of the drug can just alter and update the drug ingredients, thus, basically making them legal soon after the drug ingredient upgrade.
According to Nirav D. Shah, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), “regardless of the people’s perception that the synthetic products are good, safe, and legal marijuana alternatives, most of these drugs are illegal and may cause severe diseases. Director Shah also added that the recently reported cases of people suffering from extreme bleeding are true manifestations of the fact that synthetic marijuana is harmful to use.
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- Life-Changing Experience
- Last Trip to Rehab
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Treatment for Synthetic Marijuana Addiction
Same with other types of addiction, the first step to healing is to acknowledge that you need help. Contact Mountain Springs Recovery treatment center and speak to an Addiction Specialist.
You don’t have to worry because these Addiction Specialists are highly-trained professionals who can help you come up with the most suitable treatment plan for your case.
They will explain to you the whole process of addiction treatment and recovery and they will also let you know what to expect in all these processes. You can also ask them what types of treatment programs the center offers so that you can choose the one which you are most comfortable with. You can also consult with them about options for rehab payments.
Aside from being professionally trained to help you with treatment, people at the rehab center are empathetic and supportive of your journey towards sobriety. So, don’t prolong your agony. Get the help you need today.