K2/Spice Treatment Program
The tempting spice
demand for those who could not afford cocaine, meth from speed, krokodil from heroin and now spice from marijuana. Spice, also known as K2, genie or skunk, is a popular form of synthetic cannabis found online and in head shops sold under the guise of incense or “potpourri.”
Many countries around the world, including the United States, have made synthetic cannabis illegal. It is important to realize that spice is quite different from marijuana chemically, even if it produces similar results and is potentially addictive. Since spice is still relatively new, it is still legal. It is also very difficult to detect, limiting enforcement and causing not only rampant abuse, but usage in dangerous situations such as driving. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funded study revealed that one in nine high school students in the U.S. have tried K2 at least once, with individuals reacting to it relatively differently depending on their specific physiology.
Sovereign Health Group is a residential rehabilitation treatment company for substance abuse, mental health disorders and dual diagnosis. Our expert staff provides our patients with cutting-edge treatment programming and a full continuum of therapeutic care monitored by various licensed health professionals.
What is spice?
Spice consists of dried plants and stems laced with recently synthesized chemicals, designed to mimic the active component in marijuana called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Often known as synthetic marijuana, fake weed and K2, it’s largely marketed as having similar effects to marijuana. Nevertheless, it is not a derivative of the same plant.
The cannabinoid compound found in spice acts on the same cell receptors as THC does. Some of the compounds found in spice, however, were noted to bind with much more force to these receptors, making their effect stronger and unpredictable.
The real danger of “knock-off marijuana” stems from its synthetic psychoactive ingredients: JWH-073, JWH-018 and HU-210. Although no studies on spice’s effect on the brain have been conducted and research in general is still scarce, what we do know about these compounds generates enough cause for concern.
In addition to the fact that none of these compounds are guaranteed to be safe for human consumption, their toxicity levels are relatively high, compared to marijuana, and JWH-018 can be found in chemical fertilizers. JWH-073 is also listed by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a “chemical concern” with traces of harmful heavy metals commonly found in K2 mixtures. Although no concrete evidence of adverse reactions is known to be caused by its third manufactured psychoactive ingredient, HU-210, it has been shown to be 100 to 800 times the strength of organic THC, something that is dangerous in itself.
Signs and side effects
Similar to marijuana, spice’s primary effects include red eyes, dry mouth, hallucinations, elevated breathing and heart rate. Also like cannabis, spice can be addictive to some and its users are prone to developing a tolerance and possible dependency on the substance.
Synthetic cannabinoid also causes the following effects:
- elevated mood, agitation
- altered perception—awareness of surrounding objects and conditions
- tremors and seizures
- symptoms of psychosis—delusional or disordered thinking detached from reality
- extreme anxiety
- paranoia—extreme and unreasonable distrust of others
- hallucinations—sensations and images that seem real though they are not
- suicidal thoughts
Withdrawal symptoms may include agitation, extreme nausea, insomnia, tremors and paranoia. The first withdrawal symptoms usually occur within the first few hours of ending drug use and typically persist for days or weeks at a time.
The intensity and duration of withdrawal symptoms depend on how long the person has been using, what specific cannabinoid they were using and the person’s own body chemistry.
Treatment with Sovereign
Despite the lack of data surrounding spice, our team of highly trained health care professionals is always updated on the current state of new synthetic drugs. This allows us to ensure that patients struggling with new and relatively unknown substances receive the appropriate and best possible treatment. Due to the severity of withdrawal, it is important that detox takes place under professional supervision. Combined with counseling and therapy, we ensure our patients the best shot at recovery.