Sunday December 4th 2016

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Tolerance to Spice

Spice is a mix of synthetic cannabinoid compounds that are said to induce similar effects to marijuana.  Does Spice work for everyone?  No.  Spice can cause adverse hallucinogenic and heart effects.  While others need to smoke more to get original effect.  So what can you do to address increased tolerance to Spice or find help for a Spice addict?

In this article, we will explore what tolerance to Spice is, how to identify if you or a loved one is developing a tolerance and how to reduce your tolerance to Spice. Then, we invite your questions about Spice or becoming dependent on Spice at the end. We try to answer all legitimate queries with a personal and prompt response.

Developing tolerance to Spice

Tolerance is characterized by a need for a larger dose of a substance to maintain original effect. In the case of Spice use, this usually manifests as the inability to get high or the need to smoke more Spice to get high. You can develop tolerance simply by using Spice over a length of time or by having a natural tendency to tolerate the chemical compounds of Spice in the system. Drug tolerance to Spice can involve both psychological drug tolerance and physiological factors.

Evidence suggests that Spice users can develop tolerance to the effects of THC, similar to marijuana. Tolerance to the behavioral and psychological effects of THC has been demonstrated in adolescent humans and animals in a number of studies conducted in the last 15 years. However, So far, the synthetic cannabinoids in the ‘Spice’ products have only been tested in the laboratory (in vitro or in animals), so the health risk of the inhaled smoke is unknown.

Spice tolerance symptoms

The mechanisms that create a tolerance to Spice are considered the same as those affected by THC (marijuana) and thought to involve changes in cannabinoid receptor function. Spice tolerance symptoms have, therefore been considered similar to marijuana and can include either or both of the following:

1. A need for increased amounts of cannabinoid compounds to achieve intoxication or desired effect.

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2. Diminished effect on the user with continued use of the same amount of the substance.

One characteristic of drug tolerance is that it is usually reversible. However, the rate at which you become tolerant to a drugdepends on the particular drug, dosage and frequency of use, differential development occurs for different effects of the same drug.

Spice tolerance: How long?

As there is little research and anecdotal evidence available about the effects of Spice and inconsistency of ingredients, it is difficult to estimate how long a person would have to use Spice in order to build up a Spice tolerance. As the ingredients of Spice are extremely varied, it is even difficult to predict tolerance based on chemical compounds similar to other substances.

If you are finding that these Spice tolerance symptoms apply to you, these are indicators that the effects of cannabinoid compounds no longer work for you. However, while tolerance, dependence, and addiction can be present simultaneously, each condition is a separate and different entity.

High tolerance to Spice

There is plenty of speculation on internet forums and government websites as to what constitutes ‘high’ tolerance to Spice. It is suggested that each mix of Spice is different and therefore has a different ceiling. While one person can adapt to the physical effects of Spice quickly, others may use Spice and have a different experience every time. More research is needed in this area to better understand how Spice tolerance is processed by the body and brain. Therefore, high tolerance to Spice is specific to the ‘brand’ of Spice or mix of Spice used.

How to lower tolerance to Spice

You can lower your tolerance to Spice, and the best way to do so is to cut back on the amount and frequency with which you use it.  Starting the day with a large dose of Spice will reduce the effects of any subsequent use throughout the day. Alternating one week on, one week off use can also change the effect. Some call this a “drug holiday”. That is, you stop taking Spice for a while to give the body time to lower its tolerance. Others have suggested purchasing Spice from different sources to ensure you vary the mix to avoid tolerance. Cutting back any use of marijuana combined with Spice may also help.

Building up tolerance to Spice questions

Building up tolerance to Spice means that your body has adapted to the presence of Spice in your system and does not react to its chemical cues. However, increased tolerance to Spice can signal chemical dependence and possible addiction. Please send us additional questions or comments about building tolerance to Spice. We’ll be happy to respond to you as quickly as we can.

Reference Sources: Drug and Alcohol Services South Australia
National Institute of Drug Abuse
Office of National Drug control Policy

Photo credit: Department of Justice, DEA photos

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