Commonly known as spice or K2, many drug users enjoy synthetic marijuana for its ease of accessibility and general legality. Many might be aware that spice has been banned a couple of times already, but manufacturers are able to easily skirt around this issue by just slightly changing the chemical compound.
And since the drug is easily found online, it isn’t too difficult for someone to acquire a bag if it isn’t sold over the counter in their area. But no matter how many people claim marijuana to be a harmless substance despite evidence that cannabis addiction very much exists, it’s much harder to make this defense for spice.
We’ve written about spice before, in the greater context of common synthetic drugs. But with synthetic marijuana use continuing its spread, we feel that this particular drug deserves its own focus. Often packaged and labeled as “incense,” synthetic marijuana affects the brain much more strongly than regular cannabis.
A Particular Danger
Its increased potency makes spice particularly dangerous, and many of its effects are quite different from those of marijuana. Long-term brain damage is a distinct possibility when using this drug. In some cases, use of this drug even results in death.
Because the drug is marketed as synthetic marijuana, many users set forth with false expectations regarding the drug’s effects. This is why we feel the need to caution potential users that synthetic marijuana isn’t precisely what it says on the tin.
Like any other drug, you set yourself up for potential tragedy when you play around with spice. It’s important to know the short-term and long-term mental effects of this harmful substance. And if you’re already using, it’s important to know that there is a way out.
Short-Term Effects of Synthetic Marijuana
As noted above, synthetic cannabinoids have a strong effect on the brain. In fact, they bind to our neurotransmitters with greater strength than THC. Synthetic marijuana acts as a full agonist, affecting both the cerebellum and the hippocampus.
When this happens, our behavior undergoes several changes. We may become hyperactive, restless, and generally agitated. Many people associate marijuana with paranoia, causing us to fear and distrust others. With synthetic marijuana, these symptoms are even likelier to occur.
In some cases, we may become threatening as we experience manic rage. Our behavior when experiencing these symptoms may become rather risky.
The Amplification Of Symptoms
The above symptoms might be amplified by some of the other psychological effects that we experience. Aside from paranoia, we may also experience panic attacks and psychotic episodes. Many synthetic marijuana users also suffer from severe delusions and hallucinations.
More general psychological symptoms include anxiety and depression. Some users experience these negative emotions even after experiencing the temporary euphoria they expect when smoking spice in the first place. Our mood might be initially elevated, but we soon find ourselves so low that many experience emotional detachment or thoughts of suicide.
Like many drugs, synthetic marijuana also affects the nervous system. Among the more basic symptoms are altered perception, including sensory alterations. These symptoms are accompanied by impaired coordination and motor instability.
We also tend to struggle with difficulty thinking, often alongside some level of memory impairment. This means two things. First, it will be harder to recall certain memories while the drug is in effect. Second, certain experiences are undergone while using the drug might be forgotten upon sobering.
This particular symptom isn’t as abnormal as some of the others, given that memory loss tends to be par for the course when engaging in substance abuse. Nonetheless, it can still be dangerous for those who use spice under certain conditions, such as before or during work.
An Important Note
It’s important to note that any of these symptoms may occur upon one’s very first use of the drug. Different users will encounter different levels of severity, as is the case with most drugs. This means that one person might suffer no hallucinations at all, whereas another person may hallucinate quite severely.
The lack of predictability in these symptoms is one of the things that makes synthetic marijuana especially dangerous. Because if we don’t know what to expect, we can’t prepare ourselves. And the symptoms only stand to get worse over time.
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Long-Term Effects of Synthetic Marijuana
We noted above that synthetic marijuana can be unpredictable. This extends to the long-term mental effects, many of which are similar to the short-term effects. The primary difference is that, while the short-term effects may subside as the user comes down from their high, the long-term effects persist long after the most recent usage.
Given the nature of many symptoms listed above, this is a bit shocking to consider. This is especially true when you consider the symptoms that alter our psychology and overall personality.
For instance, some users report long-term hallucinatory effects. Such people may abstain from synthetic marijuana for several months, yet they continue to suffer from severe hallucinations.
Long-term Mental Health Effects
Long-term mental health effects may also include anxiety, depression, paranoia, and suicidal thoughts. And make no mistake—multiple users have acted on these thoughts. Too often, families and friends suffer the loss of someone dearly beloved due to the suicidal ideation created by synthetic drug abuse.
Spice abusers become so detached from reality that they fail to question their own thinking. One of our former patients even considered suicide himself. Literally, the only thing that kept him in the realm of the living was that he remembered the news reports about those who died, and was able to tear himself out of his confused state long enough to see where things were headed. Not all users are so lucky.
Long-term effects on the nervous system are not out of the question, either. We know of a bright young woman who graduated law school and passed her bar exams. She had a wonderful future ahead of her, but she was interested in trying this intriguing drug that she had discovered.
An Unforeseen Consequence
At the time, synthetic marijuana was still not banned in her area, and therefore posed no threat to her legal career. This allowed her to use frequently, to the point that she became addicted. Today, she has no legal career of which to speak. Her memory and motor skills are so shot that she requires assisted care just to handle basic acts of daily living.
Some may hear about the suicides and assume that they have nothing to worry about. Those of us who don’t struggle with depression find it difficult to believe that a drug could completely change our worldview.
But think of the young woman who lost everything. She may still draw breath, but in many ways, her life is effectively over. She’ll never know what the future might have held for her, if only she had sought help before it was too late. This is the risk we run when we fail to see the threat posed by synthetic drug abuse.
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Seeking Treatment for Spice Abuse
Before seeking treatment, you might question whether or not you’re addicted to synthetic marijuana. We can’t force such an epiphany upon you, but we might give you some guidelines to figure it out. Addicts tend to use at least two or three times per day, generally more than ten times per week.
Synthetic marijuana addicts will encounter many of the more common signs of addiction, such as financial instability, damage to social relationships, and potential health issues. Any drug-related symptoms that last for up to a week or more—even when not using—should be considered long-term and should be treated as quickly as possible.
Since the vast majority of long-term effects relate to mental health, treatment at a dual diagnosis facility is the best option. Long-term issues such as depression and anxiety may be considered co-occurring disorders. Addiction should not be treated separately from such disorders.
The Concurrent Addressing Of Mulitple Issues
Instead, all mental health issues should be addressed concurrently. Due to the large volume of addicts and alcoholics who suffer from co-occurring disorders, dual diagnosis facilities aren’t generally hard to find. In fact, we at Amethyst Recovery pride ourselves on being included among such facilities. Many of our staff have dealt with addiction as well as other issues such as depression, so we understand quite well what is required to treat such issues.
You might be a bit nervous about the idea of seeking treatment, and this is okay. Many believe there to be some sort of imaginary stigma. They accept the many stereotypes about addicts as absolute truth, and fear being lumped in with such people.
But there’s no stigma when it comes to looking after our health and sanity. We may not exactly get a medal for it, but the improvements to our well-being and general quality of life should be more than reward enough. Our bodies and minds suffered enough torment in addiction. It’s time to forge a new lease on life.
Hope Will Always Be Available To You Or Your Loved One
Synthetic marijuana might sound harmless to some, but it ruins lives on a regular basis. Sometimes, those lives are even taken entirely. Don’t let your life be one of them. There’s still hope for you. As long as you’re willing, our programs can help you find it. If you suffer from synthetic marijuana addiction and are ready to make a positive change in your life, contact us for more information.
24/7 Help for Drug & Alcohol Use
If you or someone you love is suffering from the addiction, there is no reason to delay. Start working on a solution today. Our phones are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our staff are trained to deal with drug and alcohol problems of any kind, and will recommend the right treatment for you based on your situation. Call now!