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Spice Abuse

Why Do People Abuse Spice?

Reports from U.S. State Poison Control Centers indicate that mostly teens and young adults abuse Spice.

Q: Why?
A: One reason: To get high!

The main reason so many people are turning to this drug is because Spice can mimic the effects of marijuana. In fact, the cannabinoid compounds found in Spice products act on the same cell receptors as THC, the primary psychoactive component of marijuana. Plus, it is easy to get. Smoke shops and convenience stores across the nation sell synthetic marijuana labeled as herbal incense. This makes the drug affordable and easily obtainable.

But what defines “drug abuse”? How can you identify a Spice dependence problem in yourself or someone else? We review here. In this article, we cover the signs and adverse side effects of Spice abuse. Then, we outline the sources for help and what you can do to quit Spice abuse safely. Finally, we invite your personal questions about Spice at the end. We try to answer each personal question with a prompt reply!


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How is Spice Abused?

Like marijuana, Spice is mainly smoked. Sometimes it can be added to hot water and prepared as herbal tea for drinking. The drug is also mixed along with marijuana for smoking. However, smoking Spice with weed can provoke intense reactions, some of which may be life-threatening. What’s worse, you may smoke these two drugs together without knowing as some dealers enhance pure marijuana with Spice or another brand of synthetic cannabis to produce heightened effects.

Spice Abuse Signs

Spice produces marijuana-like effects. But often, symptoms are far more intense compared to those of marijuana, and may last up to 8 hours after initial use. In fact, this SAMHSA advisory reports that some cannibinoids can be 4-100 more potent than THC.  So, how can you tell when someone is abusing Spice?

First, any use of Spice is considered abuse. We abuse drugs when we intentionally use them for their psychoactive affects. In this way, drug abuse occurs when you take Spice for its euphoric effects or as a way of coping with stress. When you use Spice to get high, you are intentionally stepping away from reality. How can you identify use?

A person on Spice will give clear signs of being under the influence of the drug. Some of them include:

Physical signs:

  • Hunger or thirst
  • Impaired speech
  • Increased heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Profuse sweating
  • Shakiness
  • Vomiting

Psychological signs:

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Delusions
  • Euphoria
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Restlessness

Behavioral signs:

  • Abnormal or erratic behavior
  • Aggression
  • Decreased social interactions
  • Neglect of responsibilities and obligations
  • Personality changes
  • Strained relationships with family and friends
  • Violent outburst

Adverse Side Effects of Spice

Q: Is Spice use safe?
A: No.

Spice will always vary in composition and potency. No single batch will be like any other. The notion that Spice is a natural, safe and toxic-free drug can’t be father from the truth. People who use these substances cannot know the precise array of chemicals that are in them. Serious, even lethal, outcomes can result from their use.

How does it affect the body? Common effects of Spice include:

  • Anxiety, panic attacks, or paranoia
  • Giddiness
  • Hallucinations
  • Increase in heart rate and blood pressure

And although Spice may have similar effects to marijuana, but the drug has a much faster onset and can be more intense. It is much more likely to produce serious adverse effects in users, regardless of whether they are fist time users or have been abusing synthetic marijuana for some time. Convulsions, organ damage, or death are possible.

Serious Negative Side Effects of Spice

Some of the serious adverse and negative side-effects that Spice users may experience, include:

  • Coma
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Hostility towards others
  • Kidney damage
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures and tremors
  • Suicidal thoughts and actions

Spice abuse can also have deadly consequences, usually as a result of sudden outbursts of violent behavior, suicide, or unintended injury.

Spice Overdose: Call 911!

Since the side effects of Spice abuse can vary from person to person in intensity and severity, it may be difficult to determine when someone just has a strong reaction to the drug or is overdosing. The more serious side effects of Spice overdose include:

  • Vomiting
  • Violent behavior
  • Confusion
  • Paranoia
  • Suicidal thinking or actions
  • Seizures

If someone close to you has abused Spice and is now experiencing adverse and violent side effects, it’s best to seek medical help immediately. Call 911 ASAP! Then, inform the contact representative that the person has taken Spice and report any other drugs or alcohol taken with it. Make sure you provide clear instructions about your exact location. You can stay on the phone with medical professionals to receive instructions about how to aid the person until they arrive. Stay calm. Emergency responders will require police back up if the situation is aggressive or dangerous.

NOTE: Poison Control Centers are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for help and advice Spice overdose and its risks. All calls are free and confidential. You can call the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 anytime if you or a loved one have taken too much Spice.

Help For a Spice Abuse Problem

Take hope! Spice problems can be treated medically. Medical professionals address a Spice problem for both physical and mental dimensions. Here are the three main stages of Spice treatment help:

STAGE 1: Initial assessment.

The purpose of the assessment phase is to determine the severity of a Spice problem and to develop a personalized treatment plan. During this phase, people go through an interview, a physical exam, medical/family history and a drug screen. Interview questions are usually standardized. The process can take 1-3 hours to complete, but is well worth the time. This way, people with a Spice problem can better understand the holistic nature of the problem.

STAGE 2: Medical Spice detoxification.

Detox is an intervention during which Spice is eliminated from the body in a safe and controlled environment. Detox clinics are staffed with doctors and nurses trained in helping you cope with the withdrawal symptoms of early abstinence. Without professional assistance, Spice withdrawal can be unpleasant, dangerous and even life-threatening.

STAGE 3: Therapy + Counseling.

Spice abuse treatment also includes psychotherapy and behavioral therapies, such as:

  • Educational sessions
  • Family, Individual, and Group Therapy
  • Nutritional Counseling
  • Pharmacological therapies
  • Career, Legal, or Social Counseling
  • Wellness Activities

All these interventions and therapies aim to help you get to the root causes of your addiction and to adopt new, sober behaviors.

Who Can Provide Such Services?

A number of professionals! In fact, it is up to you to decide which source of help you are most comfortable to reach out to. Here, we suggest a few possible options to get you started.

A Spice abuse helpline – A drug hotline is safe and informative place where you can get answers to your questions about Spice abuse. You can also find out whether you have an addiction problem and get started on your way to resolve your Spice abuse and any other mental health issues that may co-occur. In fact, when you CALL US you can talk openly and honestly about your situation. Judgement free!

Drug treatment centers – There are specialized Spice and K2 addiction treatment programs that accept and treat patients who are addicted to Spice. Inpatient rehab centers offer all services from detox to aftercare planning in-house, while outpatient programs are also available for those who don’t require a residential stay at a rehab.

Pharmacists – A pharmacist at your local pharmacy can help fill prescriptions for medicines used to treat Spice withdrawal symptoms. Pharmacists can also suggest over-the-counter medicines and herbal remedies that can help any minor symptoms of Spice withdrawal.

Physicians – Your primary physician can be your first point of contact and can run initial tests to determine the severity of your Spice abuse. Physicians can also refer you to an addiction treatment center fit for your needs.

Psychiatrists – These mental health specialists provide psychiatric help for people who require Spice addiction treatment.

Licensed clinical psychologist – Clinical psychologists provide counselling and education. Talk sessions are important in helping Spice users achieve and maintain sobriety.

Addiction specialists – Doctors who are Certified Addiction Specialists (CAS) can help people with recurrent or chronic problems with Spice abuse and/or other drugs.

Spice Abuse Questions

If you have any other questions on the matter of Spice abuse, side-effects and consequences, feel to ask or comment in the section below. We try to respond personally and promptly to all legitimate inquiries.

Reference Sources: SAMHSA: First-of-its-kind report finds that street forms of “synthetic marijuana” products linked to thousands of hospital emergency departments visits each year
FBI: Synthetic Marijuana
NYC Health: Synthetic Marijuana
NYC Health: Synthetic Marijuana (Cannabinoids) Frequently Asked Questions for Consumers
NARCONON: Signs and Symptoms of Spice Use

Spice Abuse

3 Smoking Spice

Smoking Spice

April 1st, 2017

What does smoking Spice feel like? You will definitely feel a ‘high’, but at the same time you risk experiencing dangerous and even life-threatening consequences. More about smoking Spice, here.

2 The 6 most dangerous synthetic drugs on the market

The 6 most dangerous synthetic drugs on the market

August 3rd, 2016

A look at the most dangerous synthetic drugs used by kids in America from insider, former DEA agent, Warren Rivera. More on the risks and how parents can help prevent synthetic drug abuse here.

3 How does Spice - synthetic cannabis damage the brain (INFOGRAPHIC)

How does Spice – synthetic cannabis damage the brain (INFOGRAPHIC)

June 17th, 2016

From altered perception, confusion, and paranoia to suicidal and homicidal ideation and actions, Spice is a potent drug that affects your brain and changes your behavior, mood, and personality. Explore this infographic to learn more.

4 Negative effects of Spice and synthetic weed (INFOGRAPHIC)

Negative effects of Spice and synthetic weed (INFOGRAPHIC)

March 19th, 2016

Smoking Spice can be risky and dangerous to your health. Explore more in our detailed infographic, here.

19 How much Spice is too much?

How much Spice is too much?

February 16th, 2015

A description of how Spice is packaged, and difficulties in estimating overdose amounts. Plus, more on the signs of Spice overdose and their treatment here.

11 How is Spice abused?

How is Spice abused?

January 14th, 2015

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.

7 Can you overdose on Spice?

Can you overdose on Spice?

December 24th, 2014

Yes, you can OD on Spice. We review common symptoms and their treatment here.

1 When does Spice kick in?

When does Spice kick in?

October 14th, 2014

It takes from around 5-40 minutes for Spice to kick in depending on mode of administration. More here on Spice and its duration of effects.

7 Signs and symptoms of Spice addiction

Signs and symptoms of Spice addiction

July 3rd, 2014

Main symptoms of addiction to Spice include psychological dependence on Spice to carry out everyday activities, cravings, compulsion to use, and inability to stop smoking Spice. More signs and symptoms of Spice addiction here.

34 How long does K2 last?

How long does K2 last?

June 6th, 2014

K2 effects can last few hours, but can persist for days or weeks after use. More on the factors that affect the duration of K2 and synthetic cannabinoids here.

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Leave a Reply

3 Responses to “Spice Abuse
Curious mom who doesn't want to smoke pot
5:07 am August 9th, 2017

I am curious about spice and the effects it will have on me. I have smoked different types of marijuana and every time I just get INCREDIBLY paranoid to the point that I almost have anxiety attacks. Does this mean that if I use spice, I will have the same reaction? I am looking for a release of everything that is going on with me mentally. Bipolar, severe anxiety, PTSD, dissociation from past traumas, etc…. I don’t really want to start this but even with my many numerous meds that I am on, I need something to take me away! I can’t do this ANYMORE. If spice will have the same effect as marijuana, I will not try it. I wanted to receive as much information on this as possible before I utilize spice as a mental release. I have a date to get some tomorrow morning so if I could receive any ideas about the same effects or not asap, I would truly appreciate it! Thank you in advance. If someone could email me ASAP, I would be so incredibly appreciative.

4:16 pm August 17th, 2017

Hi Curious mom. Smoking spice is definitely NOT what you should opt for. Although it may seem as a ‘safer alternative’ to marijuana, the reality is Spice can be quite dangerous. 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 there is a significant 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. This means that whatever you experienced with smoking pot, will be 4-100 times more intense with Spice.

9:46 pm July 30th, 2018

my brother has been using spice in and out of prison. he is now out and taking spice,weed and preciption drugs for his mental health. my dads been to see him tonight and he talks and keeps falling sleep and hadnt ate because no one told him he was allowed im so worrid for him.