What is Synthetic Cannabis/Synthetic Marijuana/Spice?
Synthetic Cannabis or Synthetic Marijuana refers to man-made substances that mimic the THC-effects of marijuana, but may or may not actually contain THC or cannabinoids. These products are often commercially produced and sold, and brand names include Spice, Kronic, Blue Lotus, Northern Lights, Mojo, K2, Bliss, Scooby Snax, Cowboy Kush, Godfather, Lightening Red, Lightening Gold, and other more general terms including aphrodisiac tea, herbal incense, and potpourri.
Synthetic Cannabis / Spice may or may not actually contain actual THC or cannabis. These substances are marketed as “not intended for human consumption” and therefore are not subject to regulation. Consequently, these substances frequently are comprised of chemicals and additives that have serious health risks for humans.
Is Synthetic Cannabis/Spice legal?
Spice is sold legally with packaging that states “not intended for human use”, and other such directives. They are illegal for human use due to their similarities to illegal substances; they are legal for the supposed non-ingestion purposes for which they are frequently advertised. Legal entities have successfully prosecuted manufacturers and sellers of these products due to their similarities to illegal substances.
Who uses Spice?
Synthetic Cannabis products are typically less expensive than other substances and often easily purchased online or even in some stores. They are widely available to the population at large. Persons with fewer financial resources may be more likely to use these substances due to their relatively low cost compared to other substances.
Health Risks, Side-Effects, and Addiction Issues of Synthetic Cannabis
The health risks and side-effects of these substances are very serious. There is no safe way to take these substances. Due to the complete lack of consistency, regulation, or oversight in their production, and producers ongoing attempts to vary the drugs’ chemical composition enough to dodge legal liability for imitating illegal substances, it is impossible for anyone to determine the chemical composition of the substances. Composition may also vary even within the same “substance,” so there is no way to predict when an individual will experience severe negative consequences from using even if they have not had severe consequences previously.
Side-effects of synthetic cannabis can include: stroke, seizure, vomiting, chest pain, kidney damage, psychosis, agitation, paranoia, aggressive or violent behavior, cardiac disturbance, racing thoughts, and death. Severely impaired thinking, problem solving, and other cognitive abilities, and severe changes in mood and personality are also common side effects.
Withdrawal Symptoms of Synthetic Cannabis and Spice Abuse
Withdrawal symptoms of Synthetic Cannabis and Spice use and abuse may be similar to those of cannabis withdrawal. However, since these substances often contain little or no THC, and may contain large concentration of unknown and toxic chemical, side effects may be significantly more severe and lasting than those of cannabis. Insomnia, panic, agitation, irritability, mood swings, paranoia, and cardiac disturbance are all common withdrawal symptoms of synthetic downer abuse.
Where to find help for Synthetic Cannabis & Spice Addiction
There is very little information available in scientific/medical literature about treatment for persons who abuse or are dependent upon designer drugs or new psychoactive substances. Treating these is difficult because we don’t know what exactly the patient has taken, so the symptoms are usually treated. Fortunately we have a lot of experience of helping patients through the detoxification process at Castle Craig Hospital, and we provide 24/7 medical coverage and all the support they need.
As well as detox, psychological therapies e.g. cognitive behavioural therapy, EMDR, group therapy and one-on-one therapy, are offered to patients at Castle Craig. The key is to help the person understand how the abuse started, and what can be done in the future to keep the habits from returning (relapse prevention and coping skills). Counselling plays a key role in this process, as do support group meetings.