K2 / Spice
K2 or Spice is synthetic marijuana that consists of a plant material mixture that is sprayed with synthetic cannabinoids, similar to THC. The chemical makeup of synthetic cannabinoids is often very inconsistent and can cause severe side effects as a result.
Although synthetic marijuana is often marketed as being a safe and legal alternative to illegal marijuana, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that their effects may be much more powerful, unpredictable, and even life-threatening in some cases.
There is limited research on the effects of synthetic marijuana on the brain, but researchers do know that synthetic cannabinoids do create a stronger effect than marijuana and users could be at increased risk as a result. In fact, the DEA banned 18 different synthetic compounds used in K2 or Spice because they have no medical benefit and are very likely to be abused.
Synthetic marijuana often looks like potpourri and consists of dried plant materials. Oftentimes the drug will be packaged in foil packages marketed as “incense” or “fake weed” or packaged in liquid form in a plastic bottle. K2 and Spice are two common brand names, but today hundreds of other brand names exist, including Kronic, Black Mamba, and Kush, among many others.
To use K2 or Spice, most people smoke it in joints, pipes, or prepare it in an herbal tea. Some users may also mix it with marijuana or purchase a liquid form of it and smoke it with e-cigarettes.
- Black Mamba
- Legal Weed
- Scooby Snax
Spice is the second most commonly abused illegal drug among high schoolers, with the most common being marijuana. According to the 2012 Monitoring the Future Survey, 11 percent of American high school seniors used synthetic marijuana during the past year. In addition, 11,406 emergency room visits in 2010 were associated with synthetic marijuana, 75 percent of which were among adolescents and young adults ages 12-29. The majority of these ER visits involved males (77.5 percent).
Synthetic marijuana doesn’t show up on most drug tests, making it an attractive option for those seeking to use drugs without getting caught.
Many people who abuse K2/Spice may not realize how harmful it is because the packaging can be very misleading. But under federal law, it is illegal to buy, sell, distribute, and possess synthetic marijuana. While law enforcement continually tries to regulate the ingredients used to make this drug, manufacturers quickly alter the chemical structure of synthetic marijuana to outpace law enforcement and continue selling it.
Since the chemical makeup of synthetic cannabinoids used to manufacture K2 and Spice (among other brands of synthetic marijuana) are not always known, the physical effects of these drugs can be very unpredictable and dangerous.
Immediate short-term effects of K2/Spice abuse may include:
- Elevated mood
- Altered perception
- Increased heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Violent behavior
- Suicidal thoughts
Long-term effects of K2/Spice abuse may include:
- Respiratory problems
- Kidney damage
- Cardiac arrest
Just like with any other powerful drug, individuals may become addicted to synthetic marijuana. Although anyone may become addicted, there are certain risk factors that increase a person’s likelihood of becoming addicted to synthetic marijuana. These include:
- Abuse or neglect during childhood
- Experiencing some other type of trauma
- Personal history of substance abuse or mental illness
- Family history of substance abuse or mental illness
- Being male (statistics show synthetic marijuana abuse is more common among males)
- Being young (statistics show synthetic marijuana abuse is more common among youth)
If an individual is addicted to K2/Spice, he or she may display some or all of the following signs:
- Being unable to stop K2 or Spice use despite its negative physical, psychological, and social effects.
- Having withdrawal symptoms when all use of synthetic marijuana is stopped.
- Developing a tolerance (needing more synthetic marijuana to achieve the same effects).
- Having strong cravings for synthetic marijuana.
- Using synthetic marijuana in dangerous or life-threatening situations.
Detox is a very important part of recovery from K2 or Spice addiction. Before a person can overcome their addiction to synthetic marijuana, they must first achieve a state of sobriety. This can be very difficult, as the physical effects of synthetic marijuana withdrawal are often very uncomfortable.
Common symptoms of synthetic marijuana withdrawal include:
- Intense cravings
A medically assisted detox program can help individuals who are detoxing from synthetic marijuana manage their uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms so they can achieve a stable and sober state.
Medically assisted drug detox also incorporates individual and group therapy to address the psychological effects of withdrawal and helps prepare clients for entry into a long-term treatment program that utilizes behavioral therapy to combat addiction.
The timeline for K2 or Spice withdrawal will vary based on a number of factors, including:
- What type of synthetic cannabinoid was used
- The method of use
- The frequency and dose of each use
- Co-occurring alcohol and drug addictions
- Co-occurring mental disorders
There is limited research on detoxification from synthetic marijuana, but researchers do know that withdrawal symptoms may begin as quickly as 15 minutes after the last dose. In some cases, people may not experience withdrawal symptoms for 1-3 days after the last dose.
Synthetic marijuana withdrawal is a very individualized process and therefore, should always take place in a medically monitored environment.
After detox, many individuals choose to continue their addiction treatment with an inpatient or outpatient drug and alcohol rehab program. According to the NIDA, long-term treatment of 90 days or longer is associated with more positive treatment outcomes, so a 30 or 60-day program is less likely to result in long-term or lifelong sobriety.
An inpatient drug rehab center provides a comfortable, safe, and supportive environment in which individuals can remain sober while gaining the tools and skills they need to live sober on their own.
People in drug rehab work with clinical counselors and other addiction treatment professionals to develop and practice effective coping strategies to prevent future relapse and to learn how to cope with the stressors of everyday life without resorting to drug use. Rehab programs consist of individual and group therapy, specialized behavioral therapy interventions, and evidence-based therapies such as 12-step facilitation therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy, among many others.
Although long-term inpatient rehab programs take place in a home-like setting, outpatient drug rehab programs consist of a series of group meetings facilitated by a licensed counselor. Groups meet in a safe, clinical setting several times a week.
The cost of addiction treatment programs will vary based on the type of program, the method of payment, and the duration of treatment.
After a client has completed a drug rehab program for K2 or Spice addiction, he or she may choose to continue their treatment plan by enrolling in a sober living program. Sober living homes are designed to help clients transition from a life of addiction to a life of sobriety by providing peer support, accountability, and a substance-free living environment.
Transitional housing programs can also be combined with additional recovery support services such as employment and education assistance, personal monitoring, and peer-led sobriety programming. A client may also choose to enroll in an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) while living in a transitional home for additional support.
Sober living homes provide a fantastic opportunity for individuals in recovery from synthetic marijuana addiction to learn how to live responsibly and be accountable for their own actions. This is achieved by paying their own rent, preparing their own meals, adhering to the rules of their sober living community, and building healthy relationships with like-minded peers in recovery. All of these things will help them maintain their sobriety for years to come.
The cost of sober living programs will vary based on the type of living situation offered, support services, and location. Sober living program payment is collected on a monthly basis, like rent would be.
Aftercare programs are specifically designed for alumni who have already completed a drug and alcohol rehab program and would like continued support in their sobriety. Aftercare groups meet once a week in an outpatient setting and meetings serve as a sobriety check-in for continued accountability.
- Gender-specific treatment
- Evidenced-based treatment
- 12-Step immersion
- 90-day residential treatment
- Family program
- Full continuum of care
- Insurance and private pay
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