Is Spice/K2 Safe? What You Should Know

Marijuana is the most commonly abused drug in the United States, and data suggests the same across the globe. This rise in use has led to the increased illegal manufacturing of synthetic substitutes, generally called “Spice” on the market. Spice is often sold as a harmless copy of marijuana, without the dangers of detection. However, the dangers of Spice are coming to light, thanks in part to a new study coming out of Japan.

Study Reveals ‘Spice’ Can Be Deadly

The International Institute for Integrative Sleep Medicine from the University of Tsukuba has released data showcasing the potentially deadly effects of synthetic marijuana.

Experiments on mice have revealed that seizures, which can be fatal, can be induced by exposure to both natural marijuana and the main chemical components of Spice. While further research is needed, the results point to the dangers of marijuana and synthetic copies that are often overlooked by society.

As more and more states and nations legalize marijuana for recreational and medical use, views on marijuana have been shifting towards seeing it as a ‘soft drug’, without significant health risks. This perception has also spurred the creation of Spice, a possibly dangerous synthetic drug that attempts to copy the effects of marijuana.

What Is Spice?

Spice is a mix of shredded plant material that is sprayed with a concoction of man-made chemicals that attempt to reproduce the psychoactive effects of marijuana. Other names for it include K2, Yucatan Fire, and Zohai.

The chemicals in it can vary, depending on the person creating the drug. The DEA has classified the known chemicals as illegal in America; they have no known medical benefits and have a high potential for abuse.

Often disguised as incense when sold, Spice is often characterized misleadingly as a ‘natural’ or harmless alternative to marijuana. It can be ingested as an herbal tea or rolled into a ‘joint’ similar to marijuana and smoked. It can also be found in liquid form and smoked like an e-cigarette.

Due to its changing chemical components, the mix can produce entirely different effects from marijuana.

Spice Effects on the Brain

The psychoactive effects of Spice can differ wildly between users as the chemical components are changed frequently. Some users have reported experiencing:

  • Extreme paranoia
  • High anxiety
  • Hallucinations

These characteristics are also reported by marijuana users, but often not to the same degree. Research shows that the chemicals contained in Spice bind to the same receptors in the brain that marijuana does, but much more strongly. Further research is needed to fully understand what effects Spice has on the brain.

Spice Effects on the Body

In 2011 in America, Spice was mentioned during emergency room visits over 28,000 times. The effects of using Spice that has been observed in emergency rooms include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Violent behavior
  • Seizures
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Increased blood pressure

The increase in blood pressure can lead to heart attack and death. In 2014, the use of Spice was connected to 25 fatalities and nearly 700 reports of sickness in Russia.

Spice Addiction

The DEA has classified Spice as a substance with high abuse potential. Addiction and withdrawal symptoms have been reported, and overdose has resulted in emergency room visits across the nation.

If you are suffering from addiction to Spice, marijuana, or other substances, there is help available in Washington State. At The Recovery Village Ridgefield, we offer comprehensive drug addiction treatment plans are designed to suit your individual needs. Contact us today to learn more about your options, and start your journey toward wellness.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.