It seems that there’s always some new and dangerous drug around the corner. Although much focus has been on opioids in recent years, there are a number of other substances that continue to be problematic in the United States. One such substance is spice, a synthetic drug that’s actually legal to purchase and alarmingly unpredictable. This drug is becoming particularly problematic among youths, so it’s important that we learn about spice, especially what it’s made of and what makes it so dangerous.
What is Spice?
It’s likely that you’ve at least heard of a substance colloquially known as spice in addition to a number of other names, including K2, genie, Bombay Blue, or simply as synthetic marijuana. In essence, it’s a substance that’s sold legally under the guise of a product that’s not technically marketed for human consumption; however, substance abusers know that the substance can be recreationally abused for the purpose of becoming intoxicated. What’s interesting about spice is that it’s supposed to be a “legal” substitute for marijuana, but the effects of spice and many other forms of the synthetic drug are much more like a stimulant and even, in some ways, similar to a hallucinogen. When it comes to understanding the differences between different types of drugs, hallucinogens are the most self-explanatory and aren’t as common in terms of addiction because it’s difficult to abuse hallucinogens with any sort of regularity while remaining functional in day-to-day life. As such, stimulants and depressants are far more commonplace since they can be abused without rendering a person completely unable to function.
It’s rather difficult to describe what spice is made of since, unlike marijuana, it’s not a particular herb or substance that’s consistently obtained or created. Instead, spice is loose, tobacco-like plant material that has been dried and sprayed with some sort of chemical compound. It’s the process of adding various chemicals to the herbs that spice gets most of its effects. However, the specific chemical compound in spice actually varies from one type of spice to another, which is the main reason why the effects of spice vary to such a large degree. Also known by names like skunk and Yucatan fire, spice is technically legal because it’s sold as incense or some other non-consumable substance; however, substance abusers can see these substances sold in stores and know that they’re able to smoke spice like they would smoke marijuana.
Why Spice is so Dangerous
Perhaps the main reason why synthetic marijuana products like spice and K2 are dangerous is because of the chemicals that are added to it to give the drug its infamous (and quite unpredictable) effects. And even though the substance is widely used and referred to as a replacement for marijuana, we want to, again, emphasize that the effects of spice are almost always very different from those of traditional cannabis.
According to some, the addictive potential of marijuana is quite slim, at least from a physiological standpoint; instead, many consider marijuana to be more behaviorally addictive and habit-forming than physically addictive. However, spice has actually been found to be as physically addictive as it is physiologically habit-forming. After using spice for an extended period of time, a person reaches the point of addiction, which means that he or she is unable to cease use of spice without experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Therefore, those who have developed spice addictions require treatment to break their chemical dependencies, beginning with a period of spice detox.
Since there are a wide variety of chemicals that are used in synthetic marijuana products, there’s much variability in the effects that these substances offer. Generally, some of the symptoms that synthetic marijuana users experience include racing heartbeat, severe dizziness and nausea that often reaches the point of induced vomiting, tremors and possibly seizures, confusion, agitation, profound sensory distortion, and hallucinations. Making matters worse, not only are the actual effects dangerous, but they often cause individuals to put themselves in even greater danger such as if they were to drive a car while under the influence or participate in extremely risky behaviors.
Often marketed as incense, spice can be smoked in much the same way as marijuana, but with some key differences in the drug’s effects. Also known as designer cannabinoids, spice is frequently made with one of five chemicals that have explicitly been classified as Schedule I controlled substances by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which makes it illegal to buy, sell, or possess them in their pure forms, resulting in their being available only as incense. When a user smokes spice, he or she becomes disoriented. There’s a paranoia and an increased heart rate, which can even be accompanied by psychotic episodes. After abusing spice for an extended period of time, addiction can occur, requiring spice detoxification for a person to get his or her life back.
Overcoming Spice Addiction at Malvern Institute
Much like an addiction doesn’t develop overnight, a person can’t overcome from spice addiction overnight either. Overcoming spice addiction is a process and a journey. However, many individuals suffering from addiction become resistant to the prospect of recovery. At Malvern Institute, we address many of the roadblocks to recovery by providing those in need with the full continuum of care. Our Malvern Model of Care begins with an initial period of high-quality detoxification treatment before proceeding to induction, inpatient care, and concluding with outpatient treatment. The idea is to provide the most relevant and appropriate resources at each step in the recovery journey.
What makes recovery at Malvern so unique is the level of individualization that we offer. Each patient can make our curriculum his or her own, which helps to maximize the Malvern experience. If you would like to learn more about spice addiction treatment at Malvern Institute, or if you have any other questions you’d like answered, please call us anytime at 610.MALVERN (610.625.8376).