We can safely assume everyone reading this has heard of marijuana, especially considering the fact that the drug is becoming legalized across multiple states in the U.S. People are starting to legitimize this drug for recreational and even medical use. Though this drug does have a legitimate medical use, recreational use of marijuana can quickly be abused. Just like any substance, marijuana can be addictive if abused often enough. If this substance is abused often enough, a user may want to seek a more intense high, especially if they’ve developed a tolerance. But what is that next level in cannabinoid use? The answer you’re looking for is a synthetic cannabinoid called K2 or Spice. 

This drug is essentially a stronger form of marijuana that contains chemicals to make for a stronger high. The added chemicals are what raise some red flags. These chemicals can make the drug more addictive and can even be dangerous to users. We’ve given some background on this drug, but you may still be asking: “What is Spice?” Let’s discuss further!

How Do Spice and Marijuana Differ? 

First, let’s discuss the differences between marijuana and K2/Spice. Marijuana is a cannabis-derived from the cannabis plant family. It is naturally grown and contains high levels of THC, which is what creates that euphoric high for users. Spice, on the other hand, is a synthetic version of marijuana that is made in a lab. The people who create this take dried plant materials and spray mind-altering chemicals on them. Originally, scientists used this method for research, but once their methods were published, drug manufacturers decided to try it themselves. Needless to say, their efforts were successful and K2/Spice became more popular. The chemicals added to these plants are there to create a more intense high than normal marijuana. But, the more intense the high, the more intense the craving to use again becomes. This drug is so strong that cases of overdose have surfaced over the last 10 years. This drug can be 100 times more potent than regular marijuana which is why concerns of use are so high. Now, let’s talk about why this drug is so dangerous. 

Dangers of Spice Use 

There are a few reasons why the regular use of this drug can be dangerous. Regular use of marijuana can be dangerous, so regular use of spice can be even more dangerous. The intense highs that come along with marijuana can be intoxicating, causing a person to chase an even greater high. The same thing can happen with Spice but on an even more intense level. Since Spice is meant to be a more potent form of marijuana, the highs are far more intense. More intense highs mean more intense cravings and more intense cravings mean greater desires to use more often. These desires can even cause a person to chase greater highs, which could lead them to stronger illicit drugs like cocaine or heroin. The more tolerance a person builds up, the higher the dose they’ll need to get the desired effects. If left unchecked, a person can develop an addiction to this substance. Let’s talk about some of the side-effects that Spice can create:

  1. Paranoia
  2. Seizures
  3. Chest Pains
  4. Hallucinations
  5. Irregular Heart Beat
  6. Anxiety/Stress
  7. High Blood Pressure
  8. Psychosis
  9. Labored Breath
  10. Nausea/Sickness
  11. Confusion
  12. Weakened Immune System
  13. Heart Attack
  14. Death (in extreme cases)

To give you some perspective on how dangerous this drug can be, between 2011 and 2017, there were over 31,000 poison control reports of synthetic marijuana-related side effects. In some of these cases, people were poisoned with bad batches with harmful chemicals that caused them to experience symptoms like blood in urine/stool, coughing up blood, bloody noses, internal bleeding, seizures/strokes, and even death. This has happened many times most likely because this substance is not approved by drug enforcement. There is not a lot of regulation around this drug and therefore it is still labeled as illicit.

Withdrawal From Spice

Regular use of this synthetic cannabinoid can result in the above-mentioned side-effects, but what happens when a person tries to taper regular use off? Likely, they will experience something we know as withdrawal. When a person withdraws from the regular/habitual use of a substance, their body will go into a form of shock, withdrawal. This is the body’s way of fighting to try and get that substance back. It is trying to tell the former addict that they absolutely need that substance in order to feel normal again. People who withdraw from habitual Spice/K2 use can expect to see symptoms such as:

  1. Anxiety
  2. Depression
  3. Fatigue
  4. Insomnia/Lack of sleep
  5. Nausea/Vomiting
  6. Migraines
  7. Mood swings
  8. Uncontrollable sweating

These symptoms come about because the body is having a hard time adapting to this new substance-free lifestyle. It’s the body’s last resort in trying to get that substance back. It can be extremely hard to deal with and many recovering addicts fall right back into their old habits to suppress these symptoms. If a person tries to detox from this substance, symptoms like these are tell-tale signs that they have developed an addiction.

Addiction is no joke, it’s a hard thing to overcome and it takes a lot of strength, endurance, and determination. By no means is this an impossible thing to overcome. There is always a way out of addiction, all you need to do is seek the help you need and stick to the new substance-free lifestyle! It may seem hopeless at times, but let us assure you that there’s always a way out. Spice/K2 can be a highly addictive drug, regardless of what users say. It is a synthetic cannabinoid laced with mind-altering chemicals that can be extremely dangerous and addictive for users. If you or someone you know may be struggling with a dependency on Spice, or any drug for that matter, reach out to your local addiction recovery center to see what resources you can use to help fight addiction. 

Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center® holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2009. Call 602-346-9142.