Spice and K2 are names for synthetic cannabinoids. The chemicals, called cannabimimetics, which are used to create these drugs are related to those found in marijuana plants, which is what gives Spice and K2 their other name: Synthetic marijuana. They are sometimes marketed as the safe version of these drugs, but that is far from the truth: They are often far more dangerous and addictive than regular marijuana.

Spice/ K2 is part of a group of drugs known as new psychoactive substances (NPS). In this category are drugs often known as bath salts and these drugs are unregulated psychoactives, meaning they have mind-altering effects when used. Much like bath salts, it’s almost impossible to determine what drugs like Spice or K2 are actually made of, which makes using them that much more dangerous.

Spice/K2 actually look harmless: it often comes in foil packets that are filled with a mix of herbs, with the synthetic cannabinoid sprayed onto those plants. It also comes in liquid form, which people vape or smoke in hookahs.

How K2/Spice works

The side effects of K2/Spice hasn’t been studied extensively, due to the drug dealers constantly changing the chemical nature of synthetic cannabinoids. However, researcher has shown that Spice/K2 binds to the same receptors in the brain as the THC in marijuana does. However, the binding is far stronger and people have reported a mix of good and bad side effects, including:

  • Elevated mood
  • Relaxation
  • Altered perception
  • Psychosis
  • Extreme anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations

However, sometimes the side effects can be dangerous, even life-threatening. People who have used synthetic cannabinoids and ended up in the emergency room experience effects such as:

  • Severe agitation and anxiety
  • Fast, racing heartbeat and higher blood pressure
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle spasms, seizures, and tremors
  • Intense hallucinations and psychotic episodes
  • Suicidal and other harmful thoughts and/or actions
  • Death

Synthetic cannabinoids can damage kidneys too.

Researchers have likened the effects of Spice/K2 to PCP, with reports of people being very aggressive and feeling invincible. These can make them dangerous not only to themselves but those around them. They may attack someone, or hurt themselves without realizing it.

Spice/K2 Abuse and Addiction

There haven’t been many studies done to see if Spice/K2 is addictive, but people have reported going through withdrawal when they stop using the drug. They often have the following withdrawal symptoms of K2 use:

  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability

Synthetic cannabinoid users have also reported feeling that compulsive need to seek out the drug, which is the hallmark of K2 addiction. There are other tell-tale signs of K2 abuse or addiction to look for, which include:

  • A person needing to use the drug daily or even several times a day
  • A person having intense cravings for a drug
  • A person becoming tolerant of the drug, and needing more of it to get the same effect
  • A person always ensures they have the drug on hand
  • A person spending money for drugs … Even money they may not have
  • A person neglecting responsibilities and social activities
  • A person focusing more and more time and energy on getting and using the drug
  • A person failing attempts to stop using the drug
  • A person experiencing withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to stop taking the drug

If you or your loved one shows any of these symptoms or believes they are struggling with Spice/K2 abuse or addiction, it is important to seek treatment right away.

Spice/K2 Addiction Treatment

Addiction is a deadly disease, forcing a person to live for a drug. It also puts them at constant risk for overdose and due to the lack of information of what is in synthetic cannabinoids, overdose can almost be impossible to treat. It is largely unknown what medications or behavioral therapy methods can truly help someone with a Spice/K2 addiction. However that doesn’t mean that those who are struggling with an addiction to Spice/K2 are without hope. It is safe to say medical detox and therapy have been shown to work well.

The first step in treatment is to undergo detox, where a person stops using Spice/K2 and rids it from their body. Medically assisted detox is recommended so the individual’s withdrawal symptoms can be treated by medical professionals, helping them through the process and keeping them from relapse.

After detox, the next step is therapy. Therapy is the most critical step of treatment as it works to address the root of why someone is abusing Spice/K2. Therapy also teaches the patient how to live without the drug, and teaches them to identify and combat possible triggers for relapse. Also, any co-occurring illnesses, such as depression along with addiction, should be treated as well, so a secondary illness doesn’t hinder someone’s recovery.

After going through a comprehensive treatment program, a person should continue to seek supportive care, either in a 12-step program or classes.

Are you or a loved one struggling with Spice/K2 addiction? Help is available. Sovereign Health of El Paso, Texas, offers world-class care, using the latest treatment methods that can help someone regain control of their life and health, and learn to live drug-free. Find out more about our services by calling our 24/7 helpline.

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“The therapy here helped me really look at myself and find that I am a strong individual that can deal with this and move forward in my life.”- Katie