Tuesday September 2nd 2014

Dependence on Spice

You can become dependent on Spice (synthetic blends of cannabinoids) for day-to-day functioning. In fact, dependence is an expected outcome of habitual use and manifests because of how Spice works in the brain. But what is the difference between dependence and addiction? It is easy to identify if you or someone you love has developed a dependence on Spice? We review symptoms of both physical and psychological dependence here. Then, we invite your questions about Spice dependence or Spice addiction help at the end.

Spice dependence versus addiction

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, there is a distinction between dependence and addiction, and not everyone who becomes dependent on synthetic cannabinoids will become addicted. Addiction can be present without dependence and vice versa.The main diagnostic distinction between the two is the motivation of the individual.

Dependence, refers to a state where the individual is dependent upon the drug for normal physiological functioning. Abstinence from the synthetic drugs produce withdrawal reactions which constitute the only evidence for dependence.  Addiction, on the other hand refers to a behavioral syndrome where the Spice user becomes preoccupied to the point of obsession about obtaining more Spice.

Dependence on Spice symptoms

Spice dependence is usually associated with symptoms of withdrawal. These symptoms can involve disturbances in general bodily function such as diarrhea, sweating, or vomiting. However, Spice dependence is more likely to involve disturbances in psychological functioning, such as

  • depression
  • inability to concentrate
  • increased anxiety

Physical dependence on Spice

Physical dependence is a physiological state of adaptation to the psychoactive cannabinoids sprayed on plant material. This means that when the effects of Spice have worn off, the body reacts by sending signals to the brain, impairing a person’s ability to function normally without Spice in their system.

Significant physical dependence on Spice has not been demonstrated in human or animal studies. It would appear that there are normally no serious adverse physiological effects or withdrawal symptoms resulting from not using Spice for a period of time, even after long periods of uninterrupted use.

Psychological dependence on Spice

Psychological dependence is said to be the reason why people continue to misuse or abuse Spice as the symptoms of withdrawal tend to be minimal. Psychological dependence, often called behavioural, psychic or emotional dependence is difficult to define. However, mental dependence on Spice is, in fact, defined as the emotional attachment, social circumstances, or perceived need to use the drug that entices people to continue with inappropriate use. Psychological dependence might also be defined in terms of acute “behavioural withdrawal symptoms” (for example, anxiety, irritability, or restlessness) or characterized by an intense craving or compulsion to continue the use of Spice, despite that use causing a negative impact on aspects of the users life. Other professionals believe this description of dependence is better suited to addiction.

Spice dependence withdrawal

As mentioned above, dependence is most often associated with the symptoms of withdrawal. Withdrawal from Spice symptoms can include:

  • anxiety attacks
  • depression
  • excessive sweating
  • insomnia

Spice dependence withdrawal symptoms vary from person to person and can last anywhere from 2 days up to 2 weeks depending on the persons use patterns and what has been used in the mix for example: marijuana, tobacco or other drugs.

Spice dependence time: How long to be dependent on Spice?

How long it would take to develop a dependence on Spice is unclear because the product range is so varied and relatively new to science. Spice products are so varied, it is difficult to evaluate the research available on the individual ingredients because the quantity of each ingredient is as varied as the mixes available. In some forums, it has been suggested that within one product batch the ingredients will vary significantly. When taking any drug, prescription or otherwise, it is important to be mindful of how you are feeling while taking it and when you stop taking it to better identify if you are developing a dependence.

Spice dependence questions

If you still have questions about Spice dependence, addiction or treatment options please let us know. We do our best to respond to all legitimate questions with a personal and prompt reply.

Reference Sources: National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence
NIDA: National Institute on Drug Abuse
PubMed: Marijuana Dependence and its Treatment

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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