KSince 2008, The United States has seen more and more patients being admitted to the hospital or emergency department for acute intoxication from the drug known as “K2” or “Spice.” The drug is a synthetic cannabinoid made by spraying industrial, “THC-like” chemicals on dried plants, spices, herbs (such as the Central American herb Damia) and is smoked or made into tea. The rise of the K2 has been so severe that it is now being considered a global health concern.

The drug originated in Europe around 2005 and then made its way across the pond three years later. It was first sold in gas stations, bodegas, and head shops in shiny packages that look like potpourri or incense and was advertised as “synthetic marijuana”. Nowadays, it is even sold online. Experts have said that the classification of synthetic marijuana is not only inaccurate but also deceptive. Although it is seen as a safer alternative to marijuana, K2 spice has much more detrimental effects on both an individual’s psyche and their anatomy.

So What Is K2?

As mentioned before, K2 spice is a psychoactive, synthetic drug that is meant to mimic the effects of marijuana. Although it has also been dubbed as “synthetic weed,” in reality, it is 50 to 100 times as strong as the drug and much more dangerous. It is a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning there is no accepted medical use and it has a high risk of abuse. Other drugs in the Schedule I category include heroin, ecstasy, and psilocybin “magic” mushrooms.

Since the abuse of K2 spice has been on the rise, the government has cracked down on its production and sale. However, it has not been entirely effective. Every time a regulation passes that disrupts or prohibits the sale of the spice drug, dealers just find another way to chemically produce the drug so that they can escape those restrictions. One of the problems with this is that, since the regulations are constantly changing, each batch of the spice drug sold has the potential to be completely different from its predecessors. This is a major issue as this inconsistency in potency has caused for many poisonings or overdoses from the drug.

As far as the drug legality goes, individual states have their own laws and prosecution strategies in place to ban the sale of K2 spice but, unfortunately, the drug still remains federally legal.

Side Effects of K2

The spice drug can have some of the same effects of marijuana such as altered perceptions, relaxation, and euphoria. But, since the drug stays in a users system for longer periods of time, it also comes with some serious negative side effects. These include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Paranoia and anxiety attacks
  • Agitation
  • Hypertension and tachycardia
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Psychosis
  • Hallucinations
  • Vomiting
  • Seizure
  • Coma or death

K2 doesn’t show up in urine toxicology screens. So many people who are using the drug are people attempting to get around their mandatory drug testing, such as parolees, athletes, and military personnel. According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse, a large number of K2 spice users are also teenage boys. However, people who have preexisting mental health conditions, a difficult home life, who have been exposed to crime, or have a history of drug use are more likely to abuse or become dependent on K2 spice.

If you suspect that a loved one is using or abusing K2, there are signs you can look for. These psychological, behavioral, and physical symptoms include:

  • Catatonia
  • Aggressive or violent outbursts
  • Impaired memory
  • Disorientation
  • Muscle spasms
  • Internal bleeding
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Excessive sweating
  • Chest pains
  • Poor professional or academic performance
  • Lethargy
  • Confusion

Since the spice drug is still fairly new, there is not a lot of concrete research out that sheds light on the life-threatening addiction.The long-term physical and mental effects of even one-time K2 use are still unclear.

As more and more states legalize recreational marijuana, the so-called “synthetic weed” is gaining popularity as a cheaper alternative, yet the public has been hit with the devastating effects of the drug. The drug is much more addictive than marijuana and users can easily overdose. Emergency rooms and poison control centers are seeing spikes in visits due to K2 and the media has covered stories of people collapsing from the drug on the street. The benefit of this is that law enforcement is working harder than ever to ban it altogether.

Addiction is painful and complicated for everyone involved but it is not incurable. Treatment Centers XL’s two treatment facilities have a variety of specialized day and overnight drug rehabilitation programs. Call us today to start conquering your spice addiction.