What are Spice withdrawal symptoms?

Spice withdrawal symptoms include headache, feelings of desperation, cravings, nightmares, and/or tremors. More on what to expect during Spice withdrawal here.

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Spice is a drug that produces many of the same effects as cannabis. Does Spice work for everyone?  Heck, no. And as a “designer” drug that has been around for less than a decade, the possible impacts of Spice or synthetic cannabis, are not fully understood.

Here, we take a look at the most commonly reported symptoms experienced during Spice withdrawal syndrome, why and when they occur, and also at the treatment options for how to help Spice addiction. Then, we invite your questions about Spice at the end.

Why do Spice withdrawal symptoms occur?

Spice withdrawal symptoms occur after a period of drug dependence and manifest after cessation of use. In the absence of scientific studies on the effect of Spice on the brain, our understanding of how Spice works is based on anecdotal evidence and on observing abusers of Spice who have been brought to poison control centers.

We do know, that most mixes of Spice contain cannabinoid compounds that act on the brain much the same way as marijuana: the user feels relaxed and perceptions change. We also know that regular users experience withdrawal symptoms and could become addicted to Spice much like they can with narcotic use.

What are symptoms of Spice withdrawal?

Spice withdrawal syndrome is noted among some heavy users of Spice. A person can become dependent upon the drug, craving it even after realizing its negative impact. It can cause cognitive impairment and induce drug cravings to the extent that a user starts to neglect their normal lives; personal and professional. Typical withdrawal symptoms from Spice can include:

  • anxiety
  • confusion
  • depression
  • difficulty sleeping
  • feelings of desperation
  • headache
  • nausea and/or vomiting
  • nightmares
  • palpitations
  • paranoia
  • restlessness
  • tremors

In some cases, hallucinations, suicidal thoughts, seizures, reduced blood supply to the heart, high blood pressure and even heart attacks have been reported during Spice withdrawal. The long term use of Spice could damage the respiratory passages, cause cognitive problems, psychotic episodes and schizophrenia.

Spice withdrawal symptoms: How long?

The duration or length of time Spice withdrawal symptoms last depend upon how long a person has been abusing the drug, how heavily they were using it and also their predisposition to addiction and psychoses. The user’s physical health, age and weight, their environments and their use of other stimulants, medications and other drugs could also impact the duration of Spice’s withdrawal symptoms. But generally, symptoms occur in the first hours after a missed dose and can last for days or weeks.

Spice withdrawal symptoms treatment

Physical withdrawal from Spice could be of a shorter duration than the psychological withdrawal since a user can start to crave their Spice fix. Since the long term effects of Spice are largely unknown and because Spice is sold in many different forms, users typically need close monitoring during and beyond the detox phase. Close monitoring is also required since the withdrawal symptoms can be so unpredictable. Some of the basic ways to treat Spice withdrawal symptoms include:

Detox – Heavy, regular users may need to taper off their dosage in a safe and systematic manner at a detox clinic or a residential rehab facility. Medications to help relieve withdrawal symptoms and the physical discomforts of detox may need to be prescribed.

Counseling – Therapy can help a user avoid drug cravings and realize how rewarding it can be to live sober and drug free. Psychotherapy can help the user realize how the drug use is negatively impacting family, professional and personal life as well as one’s financial resources. The user can face the underlying issues that are causing them to behave in dangerous and addictive ways. Learning to avoid triggers and learn healthy coping mechanisms are other ways that counseling can help the user.

Self help – The most important facet of recovery from dependence on Spice is the desire to recover and stay recovered. For lasting recovery, the user needs to commit fully to leading a sober life, which may mean cutting enablers and triggers out of one’s life to create a safe environment. Joining a support group and finding a sponsor to guide a user through the recovery process is vitally important, since it significantly improves chance of staying the course to lasting recovery.

Dangers of Spice

What is most dangerous about Spice is the fact that each batch of Spice is unpredictable and could have a more powerful effect than expected. It is thought that Spice is more likely to induce psychosis than natural cannabis because it lacks the anti-psychotic chemical, similar to cannabidiol, found in natural cannabis. So people predisposed to psychoses are at particular risk of developing a serious mental disorder if they use Spice.

There is also the fact that the various products sold as Spice could contain other toxins, chemicals and synthetic ingredients that could have dangerous results (even though the products are often labeled “natural” or “herbal”). In particular, there is the apprehension that some of the mixtures sold as Spice could contain heavy metal residue.

Spice withdrawal questions

Do you still have questions about how to withdraw from Spice? Please leave your questions in the comments section below. We’ll do our best to respond to you personally and promptly.

Reference Sources: NCBI: Withdrawal Phenomena and Dependence Syndrome after the Consumption of “Spice Gold”
NIDA: Drug Facts Spice
NIDA for Teens: Drug Facts Spice
Science Daily: Spice Gold Withdrawal Syndrome
NCBI: Myocardial infarction associated with use of the synthetic cannabinoid
Medscape: Synthetic Cannabis Psychosis Risk
NCBI: Spice Intoxication
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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