Synthetic Marijuana Addiction (K2/Spice)

Basic Facts About Synthetic Pot

The active ingredients in marijuana and other forms of cannabis are called cannabinoids. Most of this drug’s mind-altering impact comes from a specific cannabinoid called THC. Scientists refer to the active ingredients in synthetic marijuana as synthetic cannabinoids; these substances are intended to approximate the drug effects of THC.

Any given synthetic marijuana product contains a mixture of active ingredients and dried plant materials similar to those found in potpourri or herbal blends. Federal drug laws completely ban the sale, possession and purchase of the most commonly used ingredients in synthetic marijuana products. In an attempt to evade the scrutiny of federal and state drug enforcement officials, manufacturers of the drug commonly market it in convenience stores in nondescript or mislabeled packaging. Speak Confidentially with a Journey Advisor at 844-878-1979.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse tracks the popularity of synthetic marijuana among teenagers in the U.S. through an annual, nationwide survey project called Monitoring the Future. According to the results of this survey, American 12th graders consume synthetic marijuana more often than any other illicit drug besides marijuana.

Effects of Synthetic Marijuana

Synthetic marijuana products access the brain through the same chemical pathways as THC. People who use these products report some effects that mimic the effects of marijuana. This mimicry extends to both commonly desired marijuana effects (such as alteration of the senses and mood elevation) and psychosis-like marijuana side effects such as hallucinations and an unusually paranoid or excessively anxious mental state.

However, despite its basic similarity to marijuana, synthetic marijuana can produce mind-altering effects much stronger than those associated with THC. This is true because some of the active ingredients in synthetic marijuana far exceed THC in both potency and staying power inside the brain. In addition, since no one regulates the ingredients found in synthetic marijuana, all users expose themselves to risks for unknown brain effects.

Known Health Risks

Synthetic marijuana use can trigger a toxic drug reaction that includes physical symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, an abnormally rapid heartbeat, sharp increases in normal blood pressure, uncontrollable muscle trembling or spasming, and seizures. The American Association of Poison Control Centers tracks the number of people who report toxic reactions to synthetic marijuana use each month. In the last four months of 2013, 803 such reports were filed throughout the U.S. Another 343 reports of toxic reactions were made in the first two months of 2014.

In a study published in August 2013 in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, an American research team examined the potential of synthetic marijuana to trigger severe withdrawal symptoms in people who stop using the drug after establishing a regular pattern of intake. The researchers concluded that symptoms of synthetic marijuana withdrawal mimic those of cannabis withdrawal and include such things as muscle pain, chills, loss of appetite and a highly anxious mental state. They also concluded that, since the active ingredients in synthetic marijuana are commonly more potent than THC, withdrawal from the drug can produce unusually strong symptoms. Speak Confidentially with a Journey Advisor at 844-878-1979.

In a study published in November 2013 in the journal Neurology, researchers from the University of South Florida reported two cases of synthetic marijuana users who experienced strokes after consuming the drug. After reviewing all of the factors involved, the authors of this study concluded that synthetic marijuana intake played a significant role in the onset of stroke in each of the two patients. Specifically, they noted the presence of changes in heart and blood vessel health known to occur in people who use the drug. In addition, unknown toxic ingredients in synthetic marijuana may have contributed to stroke occurrence.