Synthetic Marijuana: Addiction, Abuse, and Treatment
Synthetic marijuana mimics the psychoactive effects of marijuana—but it has more potent and dangerous results.
Synthetic marijuana mimics the psychoactive effects of marijuana—but it has more potent and dangerous results. Also known as Spice or K2, synthetic marijuana is the second most commonly abused illegal drug among high schoolers, second only to marijuana.
In 2010, a total of 11,406 emergency room visits were recorded that were associated with synthetic marijuana use. This makes it a very deadly recreational drug that affects mostly young people aged 12 to 29.
Synthetic Marijuana Overview
Synthetic marijuana is a chemically modified herbal substance that produces mind-altering effects similar to marijuana. However, it is often more potent than marijuana. The chemicals in synthetic marijuana are manufactured to be similar to tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, which is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
According to the DEA, most of the chemicals used in synthetic marijuana are manufactured in Asia and then smuggled to the US where they are sprinkled on plant material and packaged. Manufacturers of synthetic marijuana often have no regulations or standards in place.
The DEA listed 15 variants of synthetic marijuana as Schedule I substances back in 2015. This means the substances have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. They are treated as the same category as heroin and crack cocaine.
Furthermore, the FDA noted that over 75 compounds have been identified that are not currently controlled. These chemicals vary in terms of safety, and not all are recommended for consumption.
Although the DEA has attempted to regulate the creation and distribution of synthetic marijuana, the fact that manufacturers can just make slight alterations to the chemical structure of synthetic marijuana means that ingredients can be developed faster than law enforcement can outlaw them. Synthetic marijuana distributors have been able to continue selling the drug because of this.
Synthetic Marijuana Abuse
Synthetic marijuana is often promoted as a “safe” and legal alternative to marijuana despite significant evidence to the contrary. It is even sold in gas stations and on the internet. It is often marketed as incense or potpourri and labelled as “not for human consumption,” which is a marketing loophole that enables distributors to sell the substance legally.
Street names for synthetic marijuana include Spice, K2, Mojo, Black Mamba, Genie, Cloud 9, Yucatan Fire, Moon Rocks, Skunk, Zohai, Bliss, Blaze, and Fake Weed.
Synthetic marijuana is not intended to be smoked or ingested, so using it in any form is considered abuse. Many young people are drawn to this drug because they believe it is safer than marijuana. There is also the factor of accessibility: because they can purchase it legally, they think they won’t get in trouble for using it.
Additionally, synthetic marijuana does not show up on most drug tests, which makes it an attractive choice for recreational users who are afraid of getting caught.
The high from synthetic marijuana is similar to that of marijuana. It alters a person’s perception of reality and makes them feel very relaxed. It puts users in a good mood.
Synthetic Marijuana Effects
Because the actual ingredients of synthetic marijuana are different in every batch, it is impossible to predict the adverse effects it will have on a user. The chemicals used to produce the substance’s effects were originally formulated to be used as anything from fertilizers to cancer treatments. Most of these chemicals have not been approved for human consumption.
Common side effects of synthetic marijuana abuse include high blood pressure, anxiety, seizures, paranoia, nausea, vomiting, rapid heart rate, excessive sweating, confusion, heart attacks, hallucinations, and kidney damage. While some of its minor side effects are similar to those of real marijuana, there have been many accounts of severe side effects and even death.
Synthetic Marijuana Addiction
Long term abuse of synthetic marijuana can lead to both physical and psychological addiction. Its mind-altering properties can easily cause a person to become hooked. Addiction is characterized by the continued use of a substance even when the user is already struggling with its adverse effects.
A person’s health may deteriorate over time as they take larger doses of synthetic marijuana. They will begin prioritizing the drug over everything else, and may even lose interest in activities they used to enjoy. Some addicted individuals try to hide their substance abuse.
Loved ones will notice sudden changes in the addicted individual’s behavior. They will be unable to stop taking synthetic marijuana even if they want to. When a person attempts to quit on their own, they may suffer from withdrawal symptoms and intense cravings.
Treatment for Synthetic Marijuana Addiction
Withdrawal symptoms associated with the abuse of synthetic marijuana include nausea, diarrhea, anxiety, anger, aggression, irritability, insomnia, decreased appetite, and cravings.
If someone in the family is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, it is important to seek help. A combination of medical detox and behavioral therapy can go a long way in the fight against substance abuse. But because every individual is affected by addiction differently, a comprehensive program tailored to their specific needs is necessary. Look for a nearby addiction treatment facility today and find out how drug treatment programs work.
Rehab is Your Best Chance
Treatment is an addicted individualʼs best option if they want to recover. Beating an addiction not only requires eliminating the physical dependence, but also addressing the behavioral factors that prevent them from wanting to get better. Simply quitting may not change the psychological aspect of addiction. Some people quit for a while, and then take drugs or alcohol again, only to overdose because they did not detox properly. Recovery involves changing the way the patient feels, thinks, and behaves.