How is Spice abused?

Spice is abused mainly through smoking, but can also be used in baked goods or taken as a tea. More on Spice, its abuse potential and its effects here.

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Spice (a.k.a. K2 or synthetic fake marijuana) can be found in local shops and gas stations as a “herbal incense”, “potpourri” or “batch salts” labeled “not for human consumption”. While manufacturers try to slide under the radar, the reality is that the intended purpose of Spice is as a psychoactive, mind-altering alternative to marijuana. So, how exactly can Spice be abused? Plus, how can you identify Spice abuse? More on the side effects Spice can provoke as well as its abuse potential here. Then, we invite your comments or questions about Spice use and abuse at the end of the article.

Can Spice be abused?

Yes, Spice can be abused.

Spice products often claim that they contain “natural” psycho-active material taken from a variety of plants. While Spice products do contain dried plant material, chemical analyses have shows that their active ingredients are untested, potentially dangerous synthetic cannabinoid compounds. Because these drugs are both new and poorly controlled, little is known about the long term effects of Spice use. And while the intended purpose of Spice is obvious, it is still hard to control the drug – manufacturers are one step in front of the law by constantly changing the composition of the drug. This poses a great danger for those using Spice, as the potency and content of each batch cannot be predicted.

How is Spice abused?

Spice has no known medical purpose; its use constitutes abuse. Spice is most commonly abused by smoking, as the effects are achieved most quickly this way, but it is also taken in baked goods and brewed as a tea. Spice can also be combined with marijuana when smoked. Further, while dangerous, the use of Spice in the U.S. is increasing, especially among adolescents who tend to use Spice as a “legal” alternative to marijuana.

Spice abuse side effects

Even though the synthetic cannabinoids found in Spice bind to the same receptors that weed’s tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) does, the effects of Spice can be more potent. Note here that Spice does not contain THC. The most common side effects of Spice include (even at low doses):

  • agitation
  • increased blood pressure
  • increased heart rate
  • hallucinations
  • heart palpitations
  • nausea
  • vomiting

Signs of Spice abuse

Developing tolerance to Spice can be a common sign of Spice abuse. If you notice that you need more Spice over time in order to feel its effects, this can mean that your body has become tolerant as a result of too much use. Some other signsthat point to Spice abuse and could suggest a Spice addiction include:

  • cravings for Spice
  • feeling unwell when the dose is low or when off the drug
  • inability to stop using Spice
  • increasing the dosage in order to get high
  • neglecting everyday responsibilities and obligations
  • spending a lot of time using and thinking about Spice

If you recognize more than a few of these signs, it’s highly possible that you are abusing Spice. To get help, you can consult a medical professional in order to safely quit abusing the drug and to seek specialized care for possible addiction

Spice abuse questions

Do you suspect that someone around you is abusing Spice? If you have an questions or concerns about Spice abuse or general questions about Spice, please leave them in the comments section below. We will do our best to provide you with a personal and prompt response.

Reference Sources: NCBI: Withdrawal Phenomena and Dependence Syndrome After the Consumption of “Spice Gold”
NCBI: A Review of Herbal Marijuana Alternatives
NIDA: Drug Facts on Spice
NIDA: Drugs of Abuse K2 and Synthetic Marijuana
The White House ONDCP report on synthetic drugs
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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