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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  1. My guy friend uses that n I dont understand y but it has destroyed our relationship.I cant stand to b around him.He sleeps bout 2-3 hours out of the day n is crazy come daylight cause up all night.Doesnt eat right is ALWAYS angry feels like somebody owes him something just to much for me I tried to hang in there bt he does to much.I dont know how to help him hes coughing n shit barely breathing .What do I do??

    1. Hi Natasha. Call the helpline you see on the website to get in touch with a trusted treatment consultant.

  2. Hello everyone! Unlike to most people I do have controversial opinion about K-2. Of course I agree that this drag is never been proved by FDA and gives completely different effect on different people. The most important thing is to not to have access to get this from anywhere. I’m talking about the convenient shop stores on the corner. When I had a accident in 2014 October my life all of sudden collapse. I was on physical and psychological rehab therapy about 6 months. I had 10 stitches on my head, completely broken neck and damaged spine. It was very difficult to handle pain through the day’s. I had to take so many pain killers just to go to sleep. Then It was a moment when I start asking my self; Ok!How I will now stop uusing so much prescriptions in my life. The fear of becoming chronic pain was increasing! I didn’t know what to do, before I came to conclusion; I must find the natural way of resolving this issue. I would say the more organic way. I have been never in to smoke much, maybe because I like sport and exercising regularly. Friend of mine had a surgery and his doctor prescribed him medical marijuana instead of danger pills like (Oxycoton and Oxycodon) I know, he might made the right choice, but that did lead him to all new level of addiction. When we discuss about this he recommend me; (not to smoke WEED alone). The point was not to make me go through the same experience his been going through. But eventually in my case I would of not have much things in option. So he suggested to mix weed with tobacco. For awhile I was ok, until I start feeling some discomfort and lose of memory. But there wasn’t any other way, I was to deep in pain killers like (Prozac). I was so scared and confused. And then I saw this product of potpourri in the smoke shop and I got one. I was almost addicted to weed and tobacco so much, that K-2 actually came in the right time in the right moment. I start mixing Spice with tobacco. The high was very strong and I discovered some new hope , that spice was the only way to quit smoking weed! Which I successively accomplished. But now there is another problem appeared, K-2!!!!. I start sweating so much, and it was putty much uncomfortable. So, Now the question how to stop Spice!? It was almost impossible, because is too available in every shop stores. I wake up next day with some new ideas just to mix this 3 things together (weed, spice, and tobacco) I did that couple of times and was very surprised; I really didn’t want to approach to none of them anymore. But the only fear right now I do have, is for those kids in school who tried this dangerous products at least ones, perhaps will never come out of it! Why? Because is too available! The only way this poison can be in our world, it must be isolated in rehab or physical therapy places. It helped me! No doubt! But I still think about those convenient store’s on the coner! But more about young adults who are always inspiring to run and get it. Why!? Because its legal! Safe our planet from this poison! Its not for everyone! It must be isolated!

  3. A friend of mine has a boyfriend whom has mental issues as it is such as bi polar disorder postramatic stress disorder and might even be MILDLY skitzo .. Anywho hes developed a little spice habit abd ive noticed whenever he smokes he starts flipping out in not just my friend but also friends of his that hes known for YEARS ! He starts thinking everyone is out to get him or plottibg ob him its actually quite TERRIFYING he gets this blank look in his eyes ! Theres been one episode where hes spoken on suicide and has actually came close to attempting .. Its a very dangerous situation and howvdoes alchohol intensify thebaffectsbof spice … Is it thebspice making him go crazy like this or is it the mentalbissues hes already been diagnosed with ??

    1. Hello TG. I cannot really say whether it’s only the Spice that influences his behavior or if it’s due to his mental issues, but Spice can intensify symptoms of a psychological disease and worsen the pre-existing conditions. So, I’d say its the mix of the two that makes him reach in such angry manner.

  4. Hello Jules. I’d suggest that you consult a licensed family psychologist with experience in addiction; this seems like a classic case that requires intervention. Also, look into the CRAFT model of intervention for yourself and your family.

  5. Hello Grace. I feel for you; but you are not alone. Look into Al-Anon or Narc-Anon. The scenario that you describe is repeated EVERY DAY by partners of addicts. The way out is to address issues of co-dependency and to begin to separate your happiness from his use. Check in for help at a support group or seek individual psychotherapy with a local licensed clinical psychologist/counselor with experience in family addictions.

  6. I have been with my boyfriend for 3 years now. Even before we were together he had used marijuana. He now abuses spice. He has been on and off with his addiction. He has had vehicle accidents and has lost 3 of my cars already. He has also been in jail 3 times because of his addiction. After his last visit to jail, he decided to become sober and succeded for a couple of months but a week ago I noticed him different. Every time he starts smoking again he gets out of bed and leaves and disappears on me. I call him and he tells me he will be right back and when he does come home he is all high. I don’t know how to act when he comes home that way. I just explode, I scream at him, I verbally abuse him by telling him he is a drug addict that he deserves to be alone and that he is a nobody and that no one will accept him that way. It has gotten to a point where I hit him because I’m really angry. I don’t trust him. I’m always calling to see where he is at, what he is doing, and I automatically think he is smoking. He lives with me. He has no where to go and although of all this he still gets stoned. He lies to me and tells me he is not smoking but I know he is. My mom tells me there is nothing I can do, that if he wants to change he will change but by verbally abusing or hitting him won’t solve nothing. The thing is that I can’t just stay quiet and make it seem like nothing’s happening. Every time I try to talk to him about his problem he gets offended or doesn’t want to talk about it. I get angry easily and tell him that if he doesn’t change then he has to get out. His aunt lives right beside us and his cousins also abuse spice which makes it so easy for him to come over and smoke. I need help. I love him. I know he can change but I also have contributed to his failure because I am negative.

  7. Iv taken most drugs BUT THIS STUFF IS A KILLER.

I am ready to call
i Who Answers?