Also known as “K2” or “Spice,” synthetic marijuana contains compounds that mimic the ones in marijuana. Synthetic marijuana sellers may claim that it has fewer risks than natural marijuana. However, it could actually pose more danger and has unpredictable effects.
Like marijuana, synthetic marijuana has addictive properties. Gateway Foundation’s synthetic marijuana drug rehabilitation centers in Illinois support patients in their addiction recovery.
WHAT IS SYNTHETIC MARIJUANA?
Synthetic marijuana refers to mind-altering substances sprayed on dried plants, like tea leaves, so that they can be consumed by users to produce a high. Also called fake weed, the chemicals used act on the same brain cell receptors as THC, the psychoactive substance found in marijuana.
To understand synthetic marijuana, you need to know what synthetic cannabinoids are. Synthetic cannabinoids belong to a class of drugs called new psychoactive substances (NPS). These unregulated illicit substances are produced in labs and intended to provide the same effects as illegal drugs. Although some NPS have been around for many years, they’ve recently regained popularity.
Often, synthetic marijuana is marketed as a safe, legal alternative to weed. However, this belief is false. Labels sometimes claim that these products are “natural,” but the only natural parts are the plants used as the base for the sprayed chemicals. Synthetic marijuana presents many dangers to users because it can impact the brain more powerfully than natural weed. The effects are often unpredictable and, in some instances, potentially lethal.
There are hundreds of brands of synthetic marijuana that exists. Also called herbal or liquid incense, some of the most popular types of synthetic weed include Spice, K2, Black Mamba, Kush, Kronic and Joker.
HOW IS SYNTHETIC MARIJUANA USED?
For many years, synthetic marijuana was easy to buy in gas stations, novelty stores or drug paraphernalia shops. Today, it is illegal to purchase, possess or sell certain types of synthetic marijuana. Unfortunately, manufacturers change the chemical formulas of their mixtures to sidestep these laws.
Synthetic marijuana is often sold in colorful packaging or plastic bottles under a wide variety of brand names. Because the chemicals are sprayed on dried leaves, the drug can be smoked, brewed in tea or vaped in electronic cigarettes.
WHAT DOES SPICE DO TO YOU?
Many young people are drawn to synthetic marijuana because they falsely believe it’s legal or safer than weed. Spice has similar effects to marijuana. These drugs alter a user’s perception of reality and create a relaxing high and an overall good mood.
However, the ingredients found in synthetic cannabis differ with each batch. Some of the chemicals used to produce the product’s effects may have been formulated for fertilizer or cancer treatments. Most of these chemicals are not approved for human consumption. When someone takes synthetic marijuana, there’s no way to know how they will react to the chemicals found in the drug.
HISTORY OF SYNTHETIC MARIJUANA
Synthetic marijuana is a relatively young drug, but the chemicals used to create the high have been around for decades. It was first sold under the brand name Spice in 2004, first in Europe and then in the United States. The synthetic cannabinoids used to create the drug’s effects were initially produced for medical purposes. As the illicit use of these chemicals spread, the DEA passed a law in 2012 banning these substances.
Underground chemists continually develop new experimental chemicals to replace the banned substances. These replacements may not be illegal as yet, but they can be toxic and unsafe. Today, there are more than 100 different types of synthetic marijuana. Users never know what effects these drugs will have on their bodies.
HOW DOES SYNTHETIC MARIJUANA AFFECT THE BRAIN AND BODY?
The effects of synthetic weed on the brain and body should not be underestimated. When someone uses marijuana, the THC in the drug interacts with brain cell receptors. Synthetic marijuana activates these same receptors, creating similar effects to its natural counterpart. The compounds in synthetic marijuana bind more strongly to these receptors than THC, resulting in stronger and less predictable effects.
Synthetic marijuana’s side effects and risks include:
- Violent behavior
- Suicidal thoughts
- Confusion and paranoia
- Fast heart rate
- Altered perception
HOW ADDICTIVE IS SMOKING SPICE?
Synthetic marijuana can also cause dependence and can be very addictive. When someone becomes dependent on synthetic marijuana, they may have these withdrawal symptoms when they stop using it:
Dependence can act as a symptom on its own or contribute to an addiction. The physical effects of dependence and withdrawal can make it difficult to stop taking synthetic marijuana.
SIGNS OF SYNTHETIC MARIJUANA ADDICTION
Recreational synthetic marijuana use can turn into addiction over time. You or someone you know may have an addiction if these signs appear:
- Having intense urges to use synthetic marijuana
- Missing responsibilities to use synthetic marijuana
- Feeling unable to stop using the drug
- Spending large amounts of time and money on synthetic marijuana
- An addiction professional can screen your symptoms if you think you have an addiction to synthetic marijuana.
HOW SYNTHETIC MARIJUANA DRUG ADDICTION TREATMENT CENTERS HELP PATIENTS
Addiction affects many aspects of life, and seeking help empowers you to improve these elements. A synthetic marijuana drug addiction rehab center can assist you in achieving these goals and more:
- Planning a healthy, fulfilling future without drugs
- Rebuilding connections with friends, family and loved ones
- Managing the emotional and physical symptoms of synthetic marijuana addiction
- Returning to a productive life at home, work or school
- Treatment programs for synthetic marijuana addiction give you the resources to set and meet goals for your recovery.
GATEWAY’S SYNTHETIC MARIJUANA DRUG TREATMENT PROGRAMS IN ILLINOIS
The team at Gateway uses evidence-based and patient-centered strategies to treat synthetic marijuana addiction. Our services include the following elements to improve our patients’ chances of success:
- Peer support: Services like our alumni community, demographic programs and group therapy connect our patients. These services help patients feel understood and supported as they undergo the journey to recovery.
- Wellness enrichment: We encourage our patients to discover healthy habits on their terms. Some of them find hobbies like mindfulness, while others plan their futures without drugs.
- Various therapy options: Every patient has different recovery goals and past experiences. We provide multiple types of counseling to address all types of addictions and symptoms.
- Personalized care plans: When you visit us for an intake appointment, we will tailor your treatment plan to your needs. We welcome every patient to express their concerns and provide input on their services.
When you become a patient at Gateway, you get a partner in recovery for life.
SERVICES AT SYNTHETIC MARIJUANA DRUG REHAB TREATMENT CENTERS
With synthetic marijuana addiction treatment as a newer field, clinics use a variety of strategies to handle this addiction type. Addiction services tend to involve two elements:
- Behavioral care: Therapy and peer groups help you learn healthy coping mechanisms and recovery skills. These services address the emotional aspects of addiction.
- Medical treatment: You may need medical support for your withdrawal symptoms or conditions related to your addiction. Clinic doctors can provide the direct treatments and referrals you need.
Depending on your symptoms and situation, you may benefit the most from inpatient (residential) or outpatient treatment. Your care team will help you find a program model that fits your needs.
REASONS WHY PATIENTS CHOOSE GATEWAY FOR ILLINOIS ADDICTION TREATMENT
Gateway’s synthetic marijuana drug addiction rehabilitation centers in Illinois support Chicago-area patients in their recovery. We have more than 50 years of history recovering patients’ lives from substance use disorders. For more information or to schedule your first appointment, contact us online today.