For some, finding a place to purchase Marijuana has gotten a whole lot easier these last few years. Spice is not always found in the kitchen and K2 is not a new breed of dog, but instead a form of synthetic Marijuana. Those interested need only go as far as a convenient store, local head shop, gas station or even the internet to find this “legal” Marijuana substitute.Rather than relying on Mother Nature, Spice is created in a lab and sprayed on various herb mixtures then marketed under names like spice or K2, Black Mamba, Yucatan Fire, Moon Rocks, Fake Pot and others. It is not the herbal mixtures that create the cannabanoid-like effect, but rather the chemical compounds sprayed on the various herb mixtures.
Spice is sold in small pouches or jars labeled “not for human consumption” and like Bath Salts (another synthetic “designer drug”) the chemical components are changed slightly to stay ahead of drug laws trying to control it’s sale by outlawing the chemicals it’s made of, while keeping it’s psychoactive properties.
Side Effects of Spice
Unlike natural THC (the high-inductive component of Marijuana), these man-made chemicals are designed to somewhat mimic the effects of Marijuana, although the two are not actually the same. The artificial cannabanoids won’t show up on a routine drug screening test, (another reason for the drug’s popularity), and these drugs have negative side effects not usually noted in Cannabis (Marijuana) users.
High doses of substance have been reported to cause:
- Increased agitation
- Dizziness, disorientation
- Elevated blood pressure
- Rapid Heart Rate
- Reduced blood supply to the heart (myocardial ischemia)
- …and other symptoms to watch out for
Hallucinations and heart attack have occasionally been reported, as well as psychosis in those who have underlying mental health issues. A few forms of the drug, upon chemical analysis, have been shown to contain the benzodiazepine anxiolytic drug, Phenazepam, which could explain why some chronic users exhibit mild withdrawal symptoms similar to those caused by narcotics.Psychotic properties may be enhanced due to the fact that the synthetic variety is missing an anti-psychotic chemical found in natural cannabis. That’s a strong case for the reasoning that those with risk factors for psychosis should absolutely avoid this drug.
How does Spice effect the Brain
Those who use this drug report it’s effects are similar to those of Marijuana – relaxation, mild euphoria, and altered perception. These effects tend to be exaggerated in the synthetic variety. Some studies have shown that the cannabinoid compounds in Spice act with the same cell receptors as THC (active component of Marijuana), but tend to bind more intensely to those receptors, leading to a more powerful and unpredictable effect.
Since the drug is not regulated, however, there could be differing amounts of the active ingredient, as well as other, unknown drugs added to the mix. Some health officials are concerned about a concentration of heavy metal residues in the compound, but that may be related to the herbs used and is unsubstantiated.
Warning signs of or Spice or K2 Use
There are some newer drug tests that will show traces of the chemical compound in urine, but parents of teens and others should note behaviors and other clues that may be signs of Spice abuse. These signs include:
- Possessing small jars or packets of dried herbs labeled “not for human consumption”
- Possessing dried herbs without the familiar Cannabis smell
- Receiving suspicious packages in the mail
- Buying eye drops or having red, bloodshot eyes
- Unusual smells, dismissed as “burning incense”
- Possessing rolling papers or pipes
- Exhibiting secretive behaviors, confusion, paranoia or restlessness
If your teen is exhibiting any or several of these signs, it may be they are using Spice or some other type of drug. It’s best to openly discuss the dangers and negative side effects to discourage it’s use, since they may believe it to be harmless. Since the labels don’t really match the ingredients, it’s a crap shoot to know what and how much of the synthetic is in the herbal mixture, which itself could include an unknown mixture of who-knows-what.
There are studies suggesting chronic users may become addicted, so if that is the case, consult an addiction specialist. As with most drugs of abuse, the longer one uses, the farther in the progression he may be, meaning that it may be harder to arrest the process alone. When in doubt, seek help. Our team of professionals are on hand to answer your questions and offer solutions.
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