What is Spice used for?

Spice is a combination of synthetic, lab-produced cannabinoids that imitate THC that are used for euphoric effect. More on Spice uses and side effects here.

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Known by a variety of names, Spice is a mix of herbs sprayed with synthetic cannabinoids that produce a high similar to marijuana. In fact, when people compare Spice vs. THC, the active ingredient in cannabis (marijuana), Spice ingredients tend to have many time more potent effects. While Spice mixtures are marketed as natural or legal alternatives to marijuana, they are labeled “not for human consumption”…for a reason. More here on the uses of Spice with a section at the end for your questions about its mind-altering effects or how to get help for Spice addiction.

Spice uses

Spice was originally created during laboratory research to learn more about the cannabinoid receptors in the body. Today, people use Spice recreationally for euphoric effect. However, the synthetic cannabinoids produced are relatively new and haven’t yet been studied in terms of affects on the brain. What is known is this: the chemicals found in Spice attach to the same nerve cell receptors as THC, the main mind-altering component of marijuana.

Recreational users of synthetic marijuana usually smoke it through bongs or pipes, roll it into cigarettes often mixed with marijuana, or sprinkle or mix it into food or drink. Usually, Spice is typically sold in small, silvery plastic bags of dried leaves and marketed as incense that can be smoked.

Spice uses and side effects

Some consider Spice to be safe, but it is not. Spice can include chemicals such us JWH-018, JWH-073 and HU-210, which are not considered safe for human consumption. Further, the chemical composition of many products sold as Spice is unknown. So it’s likely that some varieties also contain substances that could cause very different effects than the user might expect. The bottom line is that Spice users don’t where the products come from or what amount of chemical is on the organic material.

The effects of Spice chemicals are far more powerful and habit-forming than marijuana. They can include:

  • delusions
  • elevated heart rate and/or blood pressure
  • euphoric effect
  • hallucinations
  • loss of consciousness
  • pale skin
  • red eyes
  • severe agitation
  • vomiting

Illegal Spice use

Many people initially used Spice as a legal substitute for marijuana. That changed on March 1, 2011, when the DEA moved to make many of the components of Spice products illegal. In fact, there are imposed penalties for using it. For example, manufactures and sale assistants controlled substances found in Spice can face criminal charges varying from Class B misdemeanor to a felony of the first degree, depending on the amount of the synthetic substance.

Problems with Spice

Although many people do not consider Spice to be a hard drug, it is highly addictive. Problems with Spice generally manifest as the inability to quit smoking it, or continued used despite negative consequences. So how do you treat Spice addiction? Although many treatment centers are equipped to deal with Spice addiction, you can address possible problems with Spice in an outpatient clinic or via psychotherapy.

Withdrawal from Spice feels like intense anxiety. The first symptoms will usually include an intense craving for the drug and irritability. Depending on the severity of the physical addiction, these symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, although they are usually the worst a few days after last use and begin to subside after this peak.

Questions about Spice use

Do you still have questions about Spice or its use? Please leave them in the comments section below. We do our best to respond to all questions with a personal and prompt reply.

Reference Sources: DEA: Drugs of Abuse
NIDA: Spice, you’re experimenting on yourself
NIDA for Teens: Drug Facts on Spice
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. Kinda a long story but I’ll try and make it short. My 83 year old mother has two younger guys living with her. They got her hooked on meth 6 years ago and are stealing from her two years ago they stole two safes worth thousands in content. I’ve kicked them out several times but they just keep coming back… I’ve called adult protective services many times so has the police but they won’t do anything because she has them returning to her house. So they basically gave up. Today mom was acting really strange she called and said they are killing her and taking things daily but they told me it was you see they blame it on me. The police know who did it. They are trying to get her to get me off as being executor she told me today that executors are the ones that steal from there families. She was saying all sorts of weird stuff. I’ve never taken anything from my mom but she trusts the one guy like you would not believe. Anyway I asked them told them to leave and they did. The one has a bad heart from doing meth and is about to die. They both are gamblers. I noticed mom eating some green stuff out of a cup and when I asked her what it was she said the guy with the bad heart got it from his doctor so it was safe. She called it phenegren . I told her she should be careful in in jesting anything they give her. No I didn’t think anything about it until I got home wondering why mom was excusing me and acting all paranoid and aggressive and controlling over me. She’s not ever acted this bad unless she is high on meth or ingesting what ever this stuff was. Then by reading post after post it all makes sense. They want her in the hospital so they can rip off her house. Now I’m sitting her worrying if my mom will be okay being she is mixing this with meth and her age. This sounds crazy but it’s true she wants to be young and join in the fun but it is getting way out of control and is killing me and there is nothing I can do about it. I don’t know if I should call 911 or what to do.

    1. Hi Denise. It may be a good idea to call 911. Also, I suggest you consult a doctor or psychotherapist to help you deal with the issues your mom has. Moreover, you can consider getting help and advice from treatment professionals by calling the helpline displayed on our website.

  2. does spice withdrawal keep you from sleeping its been 4 days i cant sleep i smoke around 4 grams a day i want to quit but am highly addicted how could rehab treat the symptoms verses quitting at home is there medicine that can treat the withdrawal is there a rehab that will except medicare

    1. Hi Anthony. Sleep disturbances in one of the most common symptoms when you withdrawing from spice. You may use some natural herbs to treat insomnia such as Valerian or Kava. Moreover, you may try relaxation techniques and melatonin supplements. Here’s suggested reading on the topic:
      Also, call the helpline you see on the website to get in touch with a trusted treatment consultant who can help you find the best rehab program for you.

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