Why Do People Abuse Spice?
Reports from U.S. State Poison Control Centers indicate that mostly teens and young adults abuse Spice.
A: One reason: To get high!
The main reason so many people are turning to this drug is because Spice can mimic the effects of marijuana. In fact, the cannabinoid compounds found in Spice products act on the same cell receptors as THC, the primary psychoactive component of marijuana. Plus, it is easy to get. Smoke shops and convenience stores across the nation sell synthetic marijuana labeled as herbal incense. This makes the drug affordable and easily obtainable.
But what defines “drug abuse”? How can you identify a problem in yourself or someone else? We review here. In this article, we cover the signs and adverse side effects of Spice abuse. Then, we outline the sources for help and what you can do to quit Spice abuse safely. Finally, we invite your personal questions about Spice at the end. We try to answer each personal question with a prompt reply!
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How is Spice Abused?
Like marijuana, Spice is mainly smoked. Sometimes it can be added to hot water and prepared as herbal tea for drinking. The drug is also mixed along with marijuana for smoking. However, smoking Spice with weed can provoke intense reactions, some of which may be life-threatening. What’s worse, you may smoke these two drugs together without knowing as some dealers enhance pure marijuana with Spice or another brand of synthetic cannabis to produce heightened effects.
Spice Abuse Signs
Spice produces marijuana-like effects. But often, symptoms are far more intense compared to those of marijuana, and may last up to 8 hours after initial use. In fact, this SAMHSA advisory reports that some cannibinoids can be 4-100 more potent than THC. So, how can you tell when someone is abusing Spice?
First, any use of Spice is considered abuse. We abuse drugs when we intentionally use them for their psychoactive affects. In this way, drug abuse occurs when you take Spice for its euphoric effects or as a way of coping with stress. When you use Spice to get high, you are intentionally stepping away from reality. How can you identify use?
A person on Spice will give clear signs of being under the influence of the drug. Some of them include:
- hunger or thirst
- impaired speech
- increased heart rate
- profuse sweating
- abnormal or erratic behavior
- decreased social interactions
- neglect of responsibilities and obligations
- personality changes
- strained relationships with family and friends
- violent outburst
Adverse Side Effects of Spice
Q: Is Spice use safe?
Spice will always vary in composition and potency. No single batch will be like any other. The notion that Spice is a natural, safe and toxic-free drug can’t be father from the truth. People who use these substances cannot know the precise array of chemicals that are in them. Serious, even lethal, outcomes can result from their use.
How does it affect the body? Common effects of Spice include:
- Anxiety, panic attacks, or paranoia
- Increase in heart rate and blood pressure
And although Spice may have similar effects to marijuana, but the drug has a much faster onset and can be more intense. It is much more likely to produce serious adverse effects in users, regardless of whether they are fist time users or have been abusing synthetic marijuana for some time. Convulsions, organ damage, or death are possible.
Serious Negative Side Effects of Spice
Some of the serious adverse and negative side-effects that Spice users may experience, include:
- Elevated blood pressure
- Hostility towards others
- Kidney damage
- Loss of consciousness
- Seizures and tremors
- Suicidal thoughts and actions
Spice abuse can also have deadly consequences, usually as a result of sudden outbursts of violent behavior, suicide, or unintended injury.
Spice Overdose: Call 911!
Since the side effects of Spice abuse can vary from person to person in intensity and severity, it may be difficult to determine when someone just has a strong reaction to the drug or is overdosing. The more serious side effects of Spice overdose include:
- Violent behavior
- Suicidal thinking or actions
If someone close to you has abused Spice and is now experiencing adverse and violent side effects, it’s best to seek medical help immediately. Call 911 ASAP! Then, inform the contact representative that the person has taken Spice and report any other drugs or alcohol taken with it. Make sure you provide clear instructions about your exact location. You can stay on the phone with medical professionals to receive instructions about how to aid the person until they arrive. Stay calm. Emergency responders will require police back up if the situation is aggressive or dangerous.
NOTE: Poison Control Centers are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for help and advice Spice overdose and its risks. All calls are free and confidential. You can call the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 anytime if you or a loved one have taken too much Spice.
Help For a Spice Abuse Problem
Take hope! Spice problems can be treated medically. Medical professionals address a Spice problem for both physical and mental dimensions. Here are the three main stages of Spice treatment help:
STAGE 1: Initial assessment.
The purpose of the assessment phase is to determine the severity of a Spice problem and to develop a personalized treatment plan. During this phase, people go through an interview, a physical exam, medical/family history and a drug screen. Interview questions are usually standardized. The process can take 1-3 hours to complete, but is well worth the time. This way, people with a Spice problem can better understand the holistic nature of the problem.
STAGE 2: Medical detoxification.
Detox is an intervention during which Spice is eliminated from the body in a safe and controlled environment. Detox clinics are staffed with doctors and nurses trained in helping you cope with the withdrawal symptoms of early abstinence. Without professional assistance, Spice withdrawal can be unpleasant, dangerous and even life-threatening.
STAGE 3: Therapy + Counseling.
Spice abuse treatment also includes psychotherapy and behavioral therapies, such as:
- Educational sessions
- Family, Individual, and Group Therapy
- Nutritional Counseling
- Pharmacological therapies
- Career, Legal, or Social Counseling
- Wellness Activities
All these interventions and therapies aim to help you get to the root causes of your addiction and to adopt new, sober behaviors.
Who Can Provide Such Services?
A number of professionals! In fact, it is up to you to decide which source of help you are most comfortable to reach out to. Here, we suggest a few possible options to get you started.
A Spice abuse helpline – A drug hotline is safe and informative place where you can get answers to your questions about Spice abuse. You can also find out whether you have an addiction problem and get started on your way to resolve your Spice abuse and any other mental health issues that may co-occur. In fact, when you CALL 1-877-959-3459 you can talk openly and honestly about your situation. Judgement free!
Drug treatment centers – There are specialized Spice and K2 addiction treatment programs that accept and treat patients who are addicted to Spice. Inpatient rehab centers offer all services from detox to aftercare planning in-house, while outpatient programs are also available for those who don’t require a residential stay at a rehab.
Pharmacists – A pharmacist at your local pharmacy can help fill prescriptions for medicines used to treat Spice withdrawal symptoms. Pharmacists can also suggest over-the-counter medicines and herbal remedies that can help any minor symptoms of Spice withdrawal.
Physicians – Your primary physician can be your first point of contact and can run initial tests to determine the severity of your Spice abuse. Physicians can also refer you to an addiction treatment center fit for your needs.
Psychiatrists – These mental health specialists provide psychiatric help for people addicted to Spice.
Licensed clinical psychologist – Clinical psychologists provide counselling and education. Talk sessions are important in helping Spice users achieve and maintain sobriety.
Addiction specialists – Doctors who are Certified Addiction Specialists (CAS) can help people with recurrent or chronic problems with Spice abuse and/or other drugs.
Spice Abuse Questions
If you have any other questions on the matter of Spice abuse, side-effects and consequences, feel to ask or comment in the section below. We try to respond personally and promptly to all legitimate inquiries.
Reference Sources: SAMHSA: First-of-its-kind report finds that street forms of “synthetic marijuana” products linked to thousands of hospital emergency departments visits each year
FBI: Synthetic Marijuana
NYC Health: Synthetic Marijuana
NYC Health: Synthetic Marijuana (Cannabinoids) Frequently Asked Questions for Consumers
NARCONON: Signs and Symptoms of Spice Use
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