K2/Spice is a synthetic drug made to stimulate the effects of marijuana. Often referred to as “synthetic cannabinoids” or “fake weed,” the drug’s chemical composition often contains harmful chemicals which are very different from marijuana and often more intense and addictive.
Synthetic cannabinoids are a member of the new psychoactive substances group of drugs. Due to being a newly popular drug, they are not well regulated even though they emulate the effects of illegal drugs.
When people ask “Is Spice addictive?” the resounding answer should be yes. The drug is extremely potent and Spice addiction is quite common among young adults and teenagers. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that around 11 percent of high school students in 2012 took synthetic marijuana at least once and 75 percent of emergency room visits associated to the drug in 2010 were for people ages 12 – 29.
The Recovery Village has the resources and staff to help people treat their K2 Spice addiction and teach families the signs of Spice addiction. The first step, though, is understanding what Spice/K2 is and the ingredients that make up the drug.
Many people are wary of Spice/K2 and unsure of what it’s made of or its effects. In short, the drug is a synthetic version of marijuana. Spice/K2 produces similar effects to weed but can be much more harmful than natural cannabis due to the chemicals added to the drug. In July 2017, more than 100 people in the same Pennsylvania town overdosed in a three-day span. Newark, New Jersey, had more than 70 overdoses in April of the same year and another 40 in August. According to a New York Times article, a one-week stretch in 2016 in the state resulted in 130 overdoses on K2. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that from January to May of 2015 there were 15 deaths related to Spice misuse.
The legal status of the drug is often discussed and mistaken. While some people call it “legal weed,” the drug, on its own, is not approved by the Drug Enforcement Administration. However, variations of the drug have been produced that are legal, which makes this particular substance a special case from a legal standpoint.
Spice addiction can consume a person’s daily routine, but deaths due to overdose show misuse of the drug can also end people’s lives. Before addiction to this drug forms, seek medical assistance to treat for this substance use disorder.
Spice/K2 has a variety of names, most of them used as street vernacular when buying or selling the drug. Clinical language commonly uses the terms synthetic cannabinoids or synthetic marijuana — or fake weed — in reference to Spice, but those names aren’t used for people selling the drug or trying to misuse it. Spice and synthetic marijuana blends are referred to by a variety of names, including:
- Black Mamba
- Bombay blue
- Legal cannabis
- Mary Mack
- Moon rocks
- Red X Dawn
- Solar flare
- Yucatan fire
Spice continues to evolve and new chemicals are added and tinkered with to produce new variations of the drug. The Office of the National Drug Control Policy reported that 51 new synthetic cannabinoids were recognized in 2012, and in the last six years even more have been introduced.
Spice includes many ingredients, some natural and some scientifically produced. The natural ingredient is dried and shredded plants or herbs, but nothing else is. The synthetic chemical pairs with the natural plant to create the cannabinoid drug. One of the significant challenges with Spice/K2 is that there is not one compound mixture that is K2, Spice or any of its other various names. Since there are so many variations and formulas, identifying the drug is challenging and can be equally difficult to properly treat for addiction. Spice is highly variable and people might not know exactly what they are taking, making it potentially dangerous or deadly.
Spice/K2 addiction forms when people misuse the drug over a long period of time and increase dosage and frequency. Since the drug is similar to marijuana — and has the nicknames of “fake weed” and “synthetic weed” — some of the effects are comparable and people take the drug to achieve the same high associated to all-natural cannabis.
Once people take the drug enough, their bodies become accustomed to the feeling and the high has a lesser effect despite the dosage remaining the same. This requires a larger amount or more frequent misuse to achieve the same effects, meaning the body has built a tolerance for the drug.
Once a tolerance forms and frequency or dosage increases, people are more likely to become addicted to K2/Spice. The body readjusts to the large quantity of the drug being in the system and no longer is used to properly functioning without its presence.
Due to the drug being new, the level of addiction is not as known for experts as other, more-established drugs such as cocaine or heroin. According to the NIDA for Teens, Spice can be very addictive and causes people to experience signs of withdrawal if they abruptly stop taking the drug or attempt to reduce the frequency or dosage on their own. Some of these withdrawal signs include headaches, anxiety, depression and irritability.
Since people have overdosed on the drug — and some even died due to Spice/K2 — there are severe risks and dangers of misuse and addiction to the substance. Since the properties making up the drug vary and chemical ingredients often change, many people do not know exactly what they are taking. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that three deaths in Illinois are due to taking synthetic marijuana that included rat poison. Similar lethal ingredients could be hidden amid other chemicals and the natural cannabis that makes up the drug. Additionally, people who have allergies or experience reactions to certain substances are at a greater risk because of the potential for unknown ingredients.
Knowing the signs, symptoms and effects of Spice/K2 could help identify if someone is addicted or misusing the drug. The most common immediate effects of this drug include:
- Dry mouth
- Heart attack
- Increased anxiety
- Loss of control
- Rapid heart rate
- Red eyes
- Sweating heavily
Which signs someone might show varies greatly depending on the person’s physical characteristics and the amount of K2/Spice taken. Additional reasons for this include the chemicals mixed with the cannabis in the drug. As misuse becomes more frequent, the number of side effects a person exhibits often increases and people are more likely to feel discombobulated.
Since the drug is still new, not much is known about the long-term side effects of Spice/K2 misuse and addiction. However, the drug’s variance in chemicals and ingredients creates health risks for people who experiment and take the substance consistently. Many people have overdosed on the drug, which has been attributed to many deaths since its inception around 2010.
Permanent brain damage, kidney damage, psychotic episodes and hallucinations are some of the likely side effects for people who have misused the drug over a long period of time. Other side effects that could become long-term disorders and issues for people who take K2/Spice include anxiety, depression and paranoia.
Medical experts do not recommend taking Spice due to the potential for unknown chemicals. Mixing the drug with alcohol can be even more dangerous due to potentially lethal combinations.
If you or someone you know suffers from spice addiction, help with treating this substance use disorder is available . Recovering from spice addiction can be a challenging task, but a drug-free life is attainable. The Recovery Village has rehabilitation centers throughout the country that offer spice/K2 treatment through detoxification, inpatient and outpatient treatment, intensive outpatient care, aftercare programs and more.
One of the biggest reasons people do not seek addiction treatment is finances. Some people don’t have insurance while others have an insurance plan that does not cover drug rehabilitation. With The Recovery Village, paying for this necessary change is easy with a wide variety of ways to pay. Call us today to learn how to make this important step toward a greater quality of life.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.