Signs of Synthetic Marijuana Abuse

People who regularly consume synthetic marijuana (Spice / K2) tend to compare its effects to that of marijuana. The user experiences relaxation, an altered perception of time and space, and an elevated mood. When using synthetic marijuana, the signs and symptoms are much stronger than when using natural marijuana. Through studies, psychotic effects such as paranoia, hallucinations and anxiety episodes have been reported. The main problem with this drug is that there is no way for the individuals that use the drug to know what chemicals are in the drug and how those substances can affect their brain and body.

Due to its recent appearance on the market, there has been no significant research or scientific studies that examine the effects of synthetic cannabinoids on the human brain. However, what we know about this drug, is that the cannabinoid chemicals that are found in synthetic marijuana bind to the same cell receptor as the THC (marijuana’s psychoactive component). A problem with synthetic marijuana use is that some of the chemicals have a stronger bond to receptors than marijuana’s THC. Synthetic Marijuana signs and symptoms can have a much more pronounced effect on the individuals that use it, and it can affect them in dramatically different or stronger ways than they might expect. Due to the uncertain nature of the synthetic cannabinoids compounds, it is very difficult for the physicians to determine all of its effects on the human body.

Synthetic marijuana may have similar adverse effects as marijuana, but the “high” is usually induced much more quickly and is much more intense. In conclusion, a synthetic marijuana user is much more likely to have serious adverse effects than a person smoking weed.

Spice addiction side effects may include:

• Increased heart rate
• Increased blood pressure
• Seizures and tremors
• Agitation
• Paranoia
• Panic attacks
• Hallucinations
• Anxiety
• Heart attack
• Vomiting

The user can also become violent and attack other people around him. There are reports that deaths from violent behavior and suicide are some of the unfortunate side effects of synthetic marijuana abuse.

Dangers of Synthetic Marijuana Abuse

The dangers of abusing synthetic marijuana are actually big threats because of the way the substances interact with the user’s body. It is very important to mention that from abuse to overdose is just a small step. That “small step” is conditioned by the user’s body tolerance to the substance. Tolerance is a state that every synthetic marijuana user experience. Tolerance represents a stage in which the user needs larger and larger dosages of the drug in order to achieve the “high.”
To be more specific, let’s think about a general synthetic marijuana user. At first, the individual’s body needs just a small dose of the drug in order to achieve the high. As the time passes, the user increases the dosage of the drug and the body “gets used” to it. When the body “gets used” to the drug, the tolerance effect occurs. Tolerance is more like a resistance to the drug’s effects. The higher the tolerance, the higher the dosages have to be in order to achieve the high. Due to the intense craving and high tolerance, the user can easily increase the dosages until a lethal level is reached. That is when the overdose state occurs.

When talking about dangers of abuse, we may refer to signs and symptoms that occur due to a synthetic marijuana chronic use. In this category, we may include:

• Abdominal pain
• Nausea
• Vomiting
• Severe headaches
• Hallucinations
• Paranoia
• Psychotic episodes
• Unconsciousness
• Seizures
• Increased heart rate
• Increased blood pressure
• Breathing problems
• Aggressive behavior


Psychological Dependence

The psychological dependence affects the behavior of the user. The individual has a particular mental state that is characterized by an imperious wish of using the drug in order to obtain the drug’s effects.

Synthetic marijuana can easily provoke a psychological withdrawal syndrome after stopping a chronic consumption. The feelings of craving, anxiety, and dissatisfaction, even after the drug is out of the body, are certain proofs that the drug can easily develop this kind of dependence in the user’s body.

These side effects usually have an impact on the user’s social life (affects the user’s relationship with the environment) due to its behavioral changes. The individuals that use drugs like Spice and K2 (synthetic marijuana products), are usually blinded by the effects of these drugs and generally do not admit that they have a drug addiction problem. These behavioral effects of synthetic marijuana use can be easily observed in the user’s interrupted family relationships, altered social skills and difficulties at workplaces.

Behavioral symptoms:

• Sudden, extreme periods of hyperactivity
• Sudden, extreme periods of lethargy
• Sudden, unprovoked, and extreme angry outbursts
• Physical aggression

Psycho-social symptoms:

• Elevated moods
• Extreme anxiety
• Extreme depressive episodes
• Psychosis

Physical Dependence

Physical dependence occurs when synthetic marijuana addicts develop pathological organic needs of using the substance in order to avoid the disorders that may appear as soon as the individual stops administering the drug. This type of dependence is very common among the synthetic marijuana users.

There are currently ongoing scientific studies being conducted on the effects that spice has on the human brain. The studies have shown that the cannabinoid compounds that synthetic marijuana products have are acting on the same cell receptors in the brain that THC (primary psychoactive component of cannabis) does. With synthetic marijuana, however, the composition compounds are believed to bind more strongly to the brain’s cell receptors, leading to much more powerful and unpredictable results.

Recognizing a Synthetic Marijuana Addiction

There is a common misconception that synthetic marijuana is not addictive and that it is safe for use. Synthetic cannabinoids are by far much more dangerous that natural marijuana.

The chemicals used in creating synthetic cannabinoids can react in a variety of different ways when they get into the user’s bloodstream. Because of the diversity of chemicals that are used, it can be very difficult for the physicians to identify the addiction.

Spice addiction risk factors:

• Age: Synthetic Marijuana is a very popular drug among teens
• Social awkwardness: Many teens are socially awkward and use substances to compensate. Synthetic marijuana seems to be an easy choice
• Environment: Peer pressure can be a significant factor in drug abuse of any kind, but the high availability of synthetic marijuana makes it even easier. Parents should pay attention to whom their children are spending their time with, whether family or friends
• Genetics: The tendency to abuse drugs often runs in families
• Mental illness: People suffering from mental illnesses are more prone for substance abuse and addiction
• Stress: This factor is often a gateway for many types of drug addictions.

Synthetic marijuana addiction can be very difficult to notice because of the different chemicals that act upon the users in entirely different ways. The parent who is trying to figure out if their child is using synthetic marijuana or has a problem will probably need to be a little more of a detective. The powers of observation can be extremely useful in this situation.

Signs that a person may be addicted to Spice include:

• Obsession with obtaining and taking the drug
• Extreme sleepiness or grogginess much of the time, making potential users difficult to rouse
• Mixing synthetic marijuana with other drugs to get an increased high
• Refusing to do anything but smoke

Synthetic marijuana is dangerous, and parents or relatives should be alert and aware of its effects. Parents should look for signs like:

• Smell – Some herbs smell just like regular marijuana, but it often has a chemical smell when smoked. Some people have compared it to a faint odor of electrical or plastic burning, or describe it as sweet or the scent of cleaning chemicals mixed with smoke.
• Behavior – Heavy sedation is one of the most common behaviors reported, but relatives may also observe violence, paranoia, behavior problems, apathy, and hallucinations.
• Attitude – The addict may have no apparent desire to do anything but smoke. They may sit in their room for hours, smoking and sleeping. They often have no ambition, no desire to have a job or go to school.
• Friends – Often friends are the ones who introduce a child to drugs. If a parent suspects their child’s friends are using, they can reasonably expect that their child is, at the very least, being exposed to drugs or offered them.

A person who displays any of the signs listed before, even if it is just one or two, may be at risk of becoming addicted. These individuals should receive medical help as soon as possible.


Signs of Synthetic Marijuana Overdose

When talking about signs of overdose, it is very important to clarify what “getting an overdose” means. Overdosing represents an excessive and dangerous dose of a drug that is administered into the individual’s body, with lethal consequences.

At first, every addict needs just a small dose of the drug in order to achieve “the high.” After some time, the addict increases the dosage of the drug and the body “gets used” to it. When the body “gets used” to the drug, there is a phenomenon called “tolerance” that occurs. This state is considered a resistance to the drug’s effects. The higher the tolerance, the higher the dosages have to be in order to achieve the high. Due to the intense craving and high tolerance, the user can easily increase the dosages until a lethal level is consumed. That is when the overdose state occurs.

Because of its recent appearance on the market, there are not many studies on this drug specifically focusing on identifying signs and symptoms of abuse.

Among the signs and symptoms of abuse, the most notable ones are:

• Significant decrease in respiratory rate or respiratory depression
• Extreme sleepiness, which progresses to stupor or coma
• Cardiac arrest
• Hypotension or low blood pressure
• Apnea
• Hypertension or high blood pressure
• Circulatory collapse
• Seizures
• Death

Immediate medical treatment is required for anyone who has overdosed on Spice.