Synthetic Marijuana Abuse & Addiction Symptoms, Signs, Causes & Effects

Synthetic marijuana abuse can rob you of your health, your dignity, and your hope for a better tomorrow. At Blue Ridge Mountain Recovery Center, you will reconnect with your best self, and begin to build the foundation for a more promising future.

What is Synthetic Marijuana Abuse?

Learn More About Synthetic Marijuana addiction

Synthetic marijuana, also known as K2 or spice, is one of them most dangerous new drugs available today. Sold as incense or potpourri, this substance is a mixture of various herbs that have been sprayed with an assortment of chemicals whose effects mimic the high associated with regular marijuana. One of the reasons that this substance is extremely dangerous, is that no one knows for sure what the chemical compounds actually consist of and they are continuously changing. This means that it is virtually impossible to know what toxins you are putting into your body. One individual may use this drug and achieve the desired high, while another can take only one hit and instantly fall into a coma.

If you or someone you love have developed a dependence on synthetic marijuana it is important that you seek treatment as soon as possible. The earlier you seek treatment the higher the possibility that you avoid some of these serious negative side effects.


Statistics on Synthetic Marijuana addiction

According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, spice is the second most frequently used illegal drug among high seniors after marijuana. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that, in 2012, male high school seniors were twice as likely as female students to use synthetic marijuana.

Despite the previously mentioned federal ban, recent reports have been consistently popping up showing the tragic results that this potent substance can have on its users. Between January and June of 2014 alone, poison centers throughout the United States reported receiving nearly 800 cases of synthetic marijuana exposures. Additionally, in March of 2014, over 100 people were treated for synthetic marijuana overdoses over the course of two weeks in Louisiana, and, over a 5-day period in May of 2014, 120 people throughout the state of Texas overdosed on the substance. Research on national statistics regarding use of the drug and still being conducted.

Causes & Risk Factors

Causes & Risk Factors of Synthetic Marijuana addiction

Since this synthetic substance has recently been gaining more popularity there is still a large amount of research that needs to be done in order to provide more accurate results on the causes and risk factors that may lead an individual to begin using this substance. However, the most recent hypothesis include:

Genetic: It is well known that addiction runs in families and therefore a strong genetic component. Additionally, it is widely known that genetics play a role in the development of an individual’s personality and temperament, both of which can lead one to begin using various drugs, including synthetic marijuana.

Physical: Currently there are number of scientific studies being conducted on the effects that K2 has on the human brain. Researchers have stated that the cannabinoid compounds that synthetic marijuana products consist of act on the same cell receptors in the brain that THC (which is the primary psychoactive element of marijuana) does. However, with this new form of marijuana the composition of these compounds are believed to bind more strongly to the brain’s cell receptors, leading to much more powerful and unpredictable results.

Environmental: It is widely known that environmental factors play a large role in whether or not a person will begin experimenting with drug use. More specifically, those individuals who grow up in chaotic home environments may begin using psychoactive substances as a way to escape the reality of the unstable world around them. Additionally, individuals who have suffered from various forms of trauma or abuse are also more likely to use substances as a way to numb themselves from their emotional pain.

Risk Factors:

  • Being of younger age
  • Being male
  • Family history of mental illness
  • Exposed to chaotic, hectic home / work / school lives
  • Lack of parental involvement
  • Family history of drug use and addiction
  • Personal history of mental illness
  • Exposure to crime and violence
  • Exposure to drug use

Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-Occurring Disorders and the Complexity of Synthetic Marijuana Addiction

In many instances, individuals who are addicted to drugs like synthetic marijuana are also struggling with a mental health disorder. Some of these co-occurring mental illnesses can include:

  • Depressive disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Oppositional defiant disorder
  • Conduct disorder

Signs & Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Synthetic Marijuana addiction

The signs and symptoms of synthetic marijuana use will vary greatly since there are a large variety of chemical compounds that go in to creating this substance. The following are a few examples of symptoms that have been reported in those who abuse synthetic marijuana:

Behavioral symptoms:

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

Physical symptoms:

  • Reduced or elevated blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Panic attacks
  • Nausea
  • Feeling unusually sleepy
  • Heart palpitations
  • Chest pains
  • Muscle spasms
  • Seizures

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusion
  • Altered perceptions
  • Paranoia
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Depersonalization

Psychosocial symptoms:

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


Withdrawal Symptoms of Synthetic Marijuana addiction

Effects of synthetic marijuana withdrawal: Long term abuse of synthetic marijuana can cause an individual to become physically and psychologically dependent. Once an individual who has become dependent on spice suddenly stops using the drug they will most likely experience withdrawal. This period has been said to last for up to three days and includes the following effects:

  • Hot or cold flashes
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Anxiety
  • Excessive lethargy
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Feelings of hunger, but experiencing an inability to keep food down
  • Violent temper tantrums
  • Isolation
  • Cravings

Effects of synthetic marijuana overdose: With all of the recent reports of synthetic marijuana overdoses, it is important to recognize that overdosing on this substance is a medical emergency and treatment should be sought immediately. The symptoms that may indicate that someone has overdosed on K2 may include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Stroke
  • Depersonalization
  • Derealization
  • Disorientation
  • Seizures
  • Heart attack
  • Coma
  • Death

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