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Spice and K2 are names for synthetic cannabinoids. They are also known as synthetic marijuana and are prepared from dried plant material, infused with a synthetic cannabinoid. Owing to the ease of their availability and improper guise of safety, K2 and Spice carry much appeal to teenagers and young adults. Often advertised as a natural marijuana, substances like Spice and K2 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). Bath salts also belong to the same group and are unregulated psychoactive, 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.

Consumed for experiencing effects like euphoria, relaxation and altered perception, these drugs often cause dangerous side effects like panic attacks, hypertension, hallucinations, paranoia, aggression and increased heart rate. Sold as herbal incense, potpourri and other substances under various names, including K2 and Spice, these products are often labeled “not for human consumption” in an attempt to shield distributors, manufacturers and sellers from criminal prosecution.

These drugs are also available in liquid form, which can be vaped or smoked. Some of the street names of synthetic marijuana include “spice,” “K2,” “black magic,” “fire,” “crazy clown,” “serenity,” “genie,” and “smoke.” Spice/K2 actually look harmless: it often comes in foil packets, filled with a mix of herbs, with the synthetic cannabinoid sprayed onto those plants. As users may never know the exact composition of the drug they are ingesting, synthetic drugs can be dangerous and unpredictable, thereby, increasing the chances of causing potentially life-threatening consequences to their users.

How K2/Spice works

Because drug dealers constantly change the chemical nature of synthetic cannabinoids, the side effects of K2/Spice has yet not been studied extensively. However, research has shown that Spice/K2 binds to the same receptors in the brain as Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) present in marijuana does. However, their binding is far stronger and people have reported a mix of good and bad side effects.

Following are some of the side effects of K2/Spice use:

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

However, sometimes these side effects can be dangerous, even life-threatening. In 2011, synthetic cannabinoid use led to 28,531 ER visits. In addition, harmful exposure to these drugs was responsible for 2,695 calls to poison control centers in 2016.

Following are some of the dangerous side effects caused by synthetic cannabinoids:

  • Severe agitation and anxiety
  • Fast, racing heartbeat
  • Higher blood pressure
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Panic attacks
  • Paranoia
  • Kidney damage
  • Muscle spasms, seizures and tremors
  • Seizures
  • Intense hallucinations and psychotic episodes
  • Suicidal and other harmful thoughts and/or actions
  • Death

Researchers relate the effects of Spice/K2 to that of Phencyclidine (PCP), with reports of people being very aggressive and feeling invincible. These drugs can make the users dangerous to not only themselves but also those around them.

Spice/K2 abuse and addiction

As is the case with other drugs, even Spice/K2 abuse causes its users to experience the following common symptoms:

  • Drug dependence
  • Intense drug cravings
  • Drug tolerance, i.e. requiring more quantity of the drug to experience the same level of “high”
  • Negligence toward responsibilities and social activities
  • Increased focus on obtaining and abusing drugs
  • Inability to stop drug consumption
  • Withdrawal symptoms on reducing or stopping the drug use

There are not many studies done to see if Spice/K2 is addictive; however, people have reported going through uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when they stop using the drug.

Following are some of the withdrawal symptoms of Spice/K2 abuse:

  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle pain
  • Social withdrawal
  • Depression
  • Irritability

Synthetic cannabinoid users have also reported feeling the compulsive need to seek out the drug, which is the hallmark of K2 addiction. Following are some of the common signs and symptoms of Spice/K2 abuse:

  • Hallucinations
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Agitation
  • Red eyes
  • Paranoia
  • Agitation
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Psychosis

Owing to the addictive nature and euphoric properties, Spice/K2 users might not be able to stop using the drug despite knowing the harmful effects. If you or your loved one shows any of these symptoms or knows that they have developed Spice/K2 abuse or addiction, it is important to seek treatment at the earliest possible.

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Treatment for Spice/K2 addiction

Addiction is a deadly disease that forces the user to live for a drug. It also puts the user at a constant risk of an overdose, which can be almost impossible to treat due to little information available about what synthetic cannabinoids contain. It is largely unknown what medications or behavioral therapy methods can truly help someone with a Spice/K2 addiction. However, medical detox and therapy work well for those suffering from Spice/K2 addiction.

A comprehensive treatment program for Spice/K2 addiction combines medically-assisted Spice/K2 detox treatment with targeted behavioral therapies, counseling, and other proven treatment options. The first step in treatment is detoxification treatment that helps a person gradually withdraw from the drug by getting rid of the toxic substances stacked in the body due to its use. Medically-assisted detox also counters the individual’s withdrawal symptoms, helping him/her progress through the addiction treatment process seamlessly without a relapse.

Post a successful detox program, the next step is therapy. Therapy is the most critical step of treatment, as it works to address the root of why someone may have used or abused Spice/K2 in the first place. Therapy also teaches the patient to live without the drug and to identify and combat possible triggers that can cause a relapse. Most treatment programs also take care of any co-occurring illnesses, such as depression along with addiction, so that a secondary illness does not hinder the recovery process.

Why choose Sovereign Health

Licensed as a substance abuse treatment facility by the Regulatory Licensing Unit of the Texas Department of State Health Services, Sovereign Health of El Paso offers comprehensive treatment programs to adult men and women (aged 18 or above) with addiction-related, behavioral health-related and co-occurring illnesses.

Committed to providing comprehensive and long-lasting care, Sovereign Health of El Paso, Texas offers individualized, evidence-based treatment to help the patients in attaining a full, lasting recovery. Basis the patient’s medical history and severity of symptoms, Spice/K2 addiction treatment offered at our facilities may include medically-assisted detox and is followed by intense behavioral therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), neurofeedback as well as individual, group and family therapies.

Following are some of the treatment modalities offered at our state-of-the-art treatment facilities:

  • Psychoanalytic therapy
  • Psychodynamic therapy
  • Life skills
  • Anger management
  • Relapse prevention
  • Mindfulness training
  • Family and couples therapy
  • Experiential therapies, such as art and expressive arts therapy

Do you or your loved one have Spice/K2 addiction? Help is available. Sovereign Health of El Paso, Texas offers excellent care using the latest treatment methods that can help you regain control of your life and learn to live a drug-free life. To find out more about our top-notch addiction treatment programs or to locate the finest Spice/K2 detox centers near you, call our 24/7 helpline and connect with an admissions specialist. You can even chat online with our representatives for further assistance.

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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

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