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HOW OUR HELP LINE WORKS
For those seeking addiction treatment for themselves or a loved one, the AddictionBlog.org helpline is a private and convenient solution. Caring advisors are standing by 24/7 to discuss your treatment options.
Calls to any general helpline (non-facility specific 1-8XX numbers) for your visit (IP: 166.137.8.129) will be answered by American Addiction Centers (AAC) or a paid sponsor.
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Spice long term effects

Synthetic cannabis is dangerous!

Spice is one of the most well-known brands of synthetic marijuana. It’s made from dried herbal mixtures and chemicals which produce marijuana-like effects. Although many like to view it as the ‘safer alternative’ to marijuana, the reality is Spice can be quite dangerous at the first try…and especially in the long run.

Ranging from physical to psychological, the side effects of Spice can seriously damage your health. Psychotic episodes, hallucinations, and abnormal heart issues are some possible effects. Some other side effects like seizures can even lead to permanent consequences. But, what are the long term effects of Spice?

In this article, we break down the possible long term effects of Spice. Then, we invite you to send us your questions through the comments section at the bottom of the page. We try to respond to all real life questions. So please reach out!

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Long term effects of Spice use

We are still not fully aware of all potential risks and long terms side effects that Spice can cause, mainly due to two reasons:

1. Spice is a relatively new drug. So, its long-term effects on humans have not been researched or scientifically recorded, due to the lack of time for longitudinal studies. Still, the reported effects of synthetic marijuana can be dangerous and even life-threatening.

2. Spice is always chemically different. The drug is a combination of herbs and synthetic chemicals which are constantly changed by manufacturers. The reason this happens is because authorities have made it illegal to sell, buy, or possess some of the dangerous chemicals used in Spice, so manufacturers try to dodge possible legal problems by changing the chemical formulas in their mixtures.

What we know for certain is that the majority of Spice side effects can be far worse than those of real marijuana. There is a growing number of synthetic marijuana induced toxicity, but additional analysis is needed to determine how toxic it actually can be. Reports suggest that long term Spice users are likely to exhibit symptoms of withdrawal and addiction, and face an increased risk of heart attack.

Long term effects of Spice on the brain

The chemicals found in Spice and the THC found in marijuana have a tendency to attach to the same brain receptors. While both chemicals are considered cannabinoids and can produce similar mind altering effects. The difference is in their potency. The chemicals found in Spice (especially JWH-018) bind more strongly to cannabinoid receptors as opposed to THC. As a result they cause more potent, long lasting high, and more severe side effects.

In addition to mind altering effects, Spice can bring about psychological changes and make individuals behave in ways that are harmful for themselves and the environment. Most common adverse effects of Spice on the brain include:

  • agitation
  • anxiety
  • hallucinations
  • panic attacks
  • paranoia
  • psychotic episodes
  • seizures
  • suicidal thoughts

Long term effects of Spice on the body

What are the long term effects of Spice on the body? There are a number of short-term side effects associated with Spice use that could be potentially dangerous in the long run. The most common of which may include:

  • chest pains
  • heart palpitations
  • hypertension
  • tachypnea (abnormally rapid breathing)
  • tachycardia

These effects usually vanish within a couple of hours as Spice effects diminish, and are not followed by any residual side effects. However, individuals with preexisting health conditions are at great risk of serious consequences. Even for healthy Spice users, long term exposure can lead to consequences such as heart attack.

Long term effects of Spice on a fetus

There is a lack of research to show how Spice use could affect a developing fetus. But, since marijuana and Spice have similar effects, it follows that there is possibility for children of Spice addicted parents to experience:

  • attention impairment
  • language difficulties
  • learning problems
  • behavioral issues

Still, there is a need for a thorough research in order to justify this claim.

Spice and Schizophrenia

Due to the fact that there are over 100 types of synthetic cannabinoid compounds available, it is almost impossible to determine how dangerous a batch of Spice can be. What’s more, it is still impossible to determine which active ingredients are present in a batch making it even more difficult to research or predict its harmful long term effects.

But if we look for clues with marijuana as it targets the same brain receptors, it could be speculated that Spice abuse could increase the chances for schizophrenia and psychosis and reduce certain brain functions.

Long term effects of Spice addiction

Due to the lack of research, it is hard to say how exactly Spice addiction can affect you in the long run. But, we may assume some predictable effects, considering the fact that most active chemicals often found in Spice are Schedule I substances. Plus, a German research study has suggested that synthetic marijuana use can lead to “withdrawal symptoms and addictive behaviors.”  For these reasons, it is safe to say that Spice has a high addictive potential.

Although many believe Spice use is less harmful than real marijuana, they are in significant danger when they try to quit Spice after using the drug chronically for a period of time. Spice withdrawal effects can be unpleasant and unpredictable, and unfortunately – fatal. Here are some signs and symptoms that chronic Spice users have reported during withdrawal:

  • dehydration
  • depression
  • diarrhea
  • extreme sweating
  • inability to sleep
  • intense cravings
  • loss of appetite
  • kidney failure or damage
  • vomiting

Can Spice effects cause permanent damage?

Spice use is associated with a number of side effects, yet further analysis is needed in order to fully understand how damaging it actually is. Despite the need for further research, conditions such as:

  • brain injury
  • heart attack
  • liver damage
  • lung damage
  • kidney damage
  • kidney failure

…are permanent and cannot be reversed.

Additional questions

Do you still have questions regarding the long term effects of Spice use? Please, post your questions in the designated section below and we will try to respond personally and promptly to all legitimate inquiries. If we don’t know the answer to your question we will refer you to professionals who can help.

Reference sources: NIDA: Synthetic Cannabinoids
NIDA for Teens: Spice: “If You Use It, You’re Experimenting on Yourself”
FBI: Synthetic Marijuana
Daina L. Wells and Carol A. Ott, New Annals of Pharmacotherapy 45, no. 3 (2011): 414-417.
Leave a reply

Lin
Friday, August 25th, 2017

I tried k2 3 days ago & i have been having a headache ever since... Is that a bad sign??
Lydia @ Addiction Blog
Friday, August 25th, 2017

Hi Lin. That may be an effect from K2. I suggest that you consult with a doctor.
C
Saturday, August 26th, 2017

I used to have a problem with this stuff just wanted to report when withdrawling I turned blood red, lost alot of my vision, was shaking alot, stutter alot now, am not as smart, got brown stains on my front teeth, got violent, lost memories, lost a sense of reality, lost feelings, gained alot of weight, would wake up withdrawling in the middle of the night just to smoke to go back to bed, . I wish there was more information on the long term effects because I still don't feel like myself after 5 years of being clean. I'm just so unhappy, and I can tell this stuff really messed my head up. I hope someone will find out more info. Somehow! I'm so scared I'll die because of my previous habits. I've had a hell of a bad experience with this stuff some I have not shared.... if your on it get off now!
Nicole
Saturday, August 26th, 2017

It has been three years since my (now ex) husband developed a severe psychosis from synthetic cannabinoid which threw him into manic behavior, followed by deep depression. He has never fully recovered. He is aggitated, has frequent mood swings, gets very anxious... he hasn't had a job in 3 years. He is being "treated" but by the VA. Is there any hope for a full recovery? Or even getting to a point where he can at least function better in society?
Lydia @ Addiction Blog
Thursday, September 7th, 2017

Hi Nicole. Recovery is possible, but he must work hard on it. He may try meditation, yoga, mindfulness therapy, ad well as exercising. He should consider changing his whole lifestyle.
George
Tuesday, November 28th, 2017

I have been exposed to spice through fumes from a smoker for 4 days across a week. I can tell you that for a person who does not consume drugs at all the experience was debilitating. I am lucky to have found my own way out the situation by being able to clean down my body which was saturated by the drug and by buying new clothes. I can tell for certain that even the smell of the fumes, the chemical in these fumes is enough to induce a small high. I would recommend using soap and water and scrubbing down the body if the person has had a chance to be in an area with the drug for a long time, followed by a change of clothes. The tremors and 'out of it'-ness I experienced even from my exposure were terrifying.
Norma
Friday, December 29th, 2017

My Son thinks aliens are after him. Smokes spice regularly. Should I be afraid for my security? How do I deal with these hallucinations.
Lydia @ Addiction Blog
Friday, December 29th, 2017

Hi Norma. Hallucinations are serious side effect from smoking Spice. Your son needs to quit smoking ASAP.
Richard
Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

i used it for 4 years every day 3 grams a day. When I went into Inpatient Rehab for it they all said the addiction that I had was like that of a crack addiction. I'm scared that we don't know the long-term effects I'm very scared.
Addiction Blog
Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

Hi Richard. I hear you. Keep your focus on the moment. You will deal with the effects as they occur. I'd suggest that you find an ally in a doctor or psychiatrist who cares about you and can follow you through your recovery. The longer you stay away from Spice, the more positive your life will be.
Diane
Thursday, February 1st, 2018

So there has been no studies regarding the long term effects? My Son and his best friend smoked a lot of Spice 6 yrs ago. Both were hospitalized in 3/2012. His best friend was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder & now my Son was diagnosed with schizophrenia on January 15, 2018. I’m having a hard time believing that coincidently both of these boys had schizophrenia to begin with and the spice brought it to the surface. I’d say it’s pretty apparent that the Spice caused quite a bit of damage.
Adam
Sunday, February 4th, 2018

I used the synthetic for about 3 years. Heavy. I have been off them completely for about 3-4 years. I have been to 2 urologists, 2 Gastro's. I have had 2 lower GI and one upper. I used to urinate with clots of blood. I cannot see it anymore but my regular doctor told me a month ago it registered as high as their test can read. Gastro said I have ulcers in my colon, inflamed small and large intestines with lacerations throughout. I frequently everyday for a few years have severe sharp pain in my lower left side. I have had ultrasounds, xrays, CT scans, cameras in every hole in my body. No doctor or specialist can point me in a "healthy" direction. The GI doctor finally has just decided to call it crhones disease because he doesn't know what else to call it. About a week ago I had a fever for 1 day. For the next Two days after, I started coughing up blood in the morning after I wake. Went to DR. Got chest xray he say nothing. Gives me steroids. Now, for the last 4 days, I am also having a on/ off sharp pain behind my right pectoral in my chest. Pushing or massaging it makes it worse. I don't know what to do anymore. I cannot seem to get any answers/help. I made a bad choice in life and I'm paying dearly for it. Me and my fiancee just had our 1st child. I'm 28 with a great job and a house I purchased when I was 18. Without real help/guidance i will be lucky to make it to 30.
Diana
Thursday, February 15th, 2018

About 3 years ago someone put spice on a turkey dinner I was invited to. I almost died.My demo has gotten really bad after that.Could that one time have caused this?My doctor says no.
Lydia @ Addiction Blog
Thursday, February 15th, 2018

Hi Diana. It may be. Space is a really dangerous synthetic marijuana. So, you don't know the actual dose that was put on the turkey.
Megs
Friday, February 23rd, 2018

Norma be very afraid! I'm finding out they are so descentatized from human emotions. I was strangled till I was unconscious and he just sat there holding me waiting to see if I came too. The fact that I might have been dead didn't phase him at all. Very non chalant. I'm currently sleeping with my window open so I can hear if someone opens my gate. This is all new to me! Supposedly he has been clean and out of rehab for 3yrs. I thought I was dealing with a mental disorder now I'm worried he's sneaking it back into his life or he does have some major life lasting side effects. I've never seen anything like it!!!! I'm at a loss
patrick
Monday, March 26th, 2018

i used a liquid version in a vape and i have had heart inflammation for 2 weeks and it won’t go away.
Lydia @ Addiction Blog
Monday, March 26th, 2018

Hi Patrick. If you don't feel well, check up with your doctor.
K.
Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018

I overdosed on Spice in 2008 which was a horrible experience. I obly smoked it once, but a lot. Only a few months later I started to have panic attacks almost every night for more than a year. I never had anxiety or panic attacks before in my life. I had episodes in which I physically felt sick for years. 9 years after smoking Spice, I still have anxiety a lot of times. Due to that fact, I have two questions: 1. Is it possible that after all those years I still feel anxiety sometimes for the fact that I overdosed once on Spice? 2. Is there anything I can do to heal/ cure the long-term-effects?
Keith
Sunday, April 8th, 2018

Hello everyone I am 23 and I was addicted to this stuff for quite a while from the time I was 18-20 years old , but k2 has messed my whole life up , I’ve been in a coma before and on machines to keep me alive now I am on a medicine the rest of my life because I have seizures with out the medicine all because this stuff messed my brain up I can never have a license , drink alcohol , I can’t do a lot , I just wanted to let anyone that is out there to not do this drug it’s the worst thing in the world
Dakota
Thursday, April 12th, 2018

I'm a former spice addict of 5 years please for the love of God don't do this drug ive been clean for over 2 years but still have issues related to my former spice use spice is the devil and to me the most addictive substance out there I literally watched heroin users come off it using spice but the withdraw symptoms are the worse nothing compared to it. At 23 my kidneys stopped working and almost needed diaylis thank God my kidney came back to full functional I was told by the Dr I should be dead when i woke up in the hospital had 3 seizures doc said if I didnt come to the hospital I would be died in less than an hour I'm so glad I finally broke free but I'm telling you now the effects of spice will never go away like I said before I still deal with it 2 years later
Katie
Monday, June 11th, 2018

My boyfriend, Brett, and i have been together for9 months. He was smoking something call spice when i met him. He stopped for a few weeks here and there in this duration. His mom and brother all smoke it also.Brett told me that he has neen smoking it since age 18 and is now 30. I am afraid of making a life with him, even though thoughts of not being without him tears form instantly. What do i do? I live in Bangor,Maine. Over idiot governor Paul LePage, should do something useful and make it illegal.
Erin
Thursday, June 14th, 2018

My son started smoking spice when he was 16 with his older friend who could buy it. He started having hallucinations and becoming very paranoid, thought people were poisoning him, the devil was craving him, etc. He has been in and out of jail several times and is now clinically diagnosed with schizophrenia. He’s 22 years old now and he’s been in a behavioral health facility as a ward of the state for over a year. They’ve tried all combinations of medicines and nothing is working. This stuff ruins lives. It’s just not worth the risk for a momentary high.
Rick
Thursday, June 14th, 2018

I was on spice i used to smoke 5gram a day or more somtimes i was on it for 3 year ive tried them all k2 cherry/black, exoduce space cadet insane joker and so on i managed to get of the stuff 18 months ago but the only way i did it was to move away from the area am from i used get panic attacks i was paraniod all the time i used to shop lift everyday to fund my addiction it was the worst time of my life getting off it was so hard it takes about 2 weeks clean before u stop getting withdrawls like being sick diarea ect now am off it am a new person i still got one or to side affect i get chest pain still and i still have diarea sometimes my body is just getting back normal and the only worrying side affect i have even now is bad chest pain so for all those people who are trying to quite ill give u 1 advise is to move away to a place where it doesnt have spice overwise lock yourself away for 2 weeks and trust it will be hard.
Joe
Monday, June 18th, 2018

It’s a lot to take in but please read it all. Stop smoking this stuff if you have started. If you are thinking about trying it.... DONT! My head is always in a fog, I’m not as smart as I was and I have a hard time paying attention. I feel distant from reality and I stutter as well as having trouble finding words. I keep having rapid heart beats and abnormal breathing.it’s been over 4 years since I’ve smoked this stuff. my grammar has never been this horrible and now proper sentences for me has gone down the drain. Has anyone found any treatment for this? :( I used to smoke over 4 grams a day. I was in nursing school going for my bachelors and doing really well. I started smoking it so much to the point where I would black out and trip. After I felt the high wear off a little I would smoke some more. I ended up in the hospital due to a psychotic episode because of this stuff and I have never been the same since. If anyone wants to share their experience with me email me cause I’m trying to see how this has effected other people, or has been through the same stuff I went through. I wish I can go for some kind of brain scan or something.