“K2” and “spice” are just two of the hundreds of names for synthetic cannabinoids, what the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) terms “new psychoactive substances.” They’re laboratory chemicals that attempt to mimic the effects of marijuana. Often developed in clandestine or overseas laboratories, these designer drugs are either sprayed on dried plant materials or sold in
e-liquid forms to be used in vaporizers or e-cigarettes.
Whatever names they’re sold under, Mission Recovery understands just how damaging K2 abuse is for both users and those who care about them. We’re a leading provider of K2 addiction treatment as well as the co-occurring mental conditions that often drive people to abuse drugs. Our evidence-based, holistic treatment methods help patients achieve a sober, successful future.
Synthetic cannabinoids got their start as research chemicals for scientists studying how brain receptors worked. Underground chemists learned the formulas for these chemicals from published research papers and began using them as a recipe.
K2 is often sold through legal loopholes: The chemical composition of these drugs change so rapidly it’s difficult for law enforcement or other regulatory agencies to criminalize them. Commonly found at convenience stores and smoke shops, K2 is also often packaged with wording like “potpourri” or “not for human consumption” as legal fig leaves.
The chemical makeup of spice and K2 changes so often it makes the effects of K2 abuse unpredictable. Some K2 chemicals do act like marijuana, but they bond much more strongly with brain cells, creating dramatically stronger effects. Some chemical batches may create effects vastly different from marijuana. Worse, sometimes the wrong batch of K2 puts its users in the hospital – or the ground. Every hit is a gamble.
Symptoms of K2/Spice Abuse
Symptoms of K2 use include:
- Mood changes
- Intense anxiety
- Withdrawal symptoms including headaches, depression and irritability
Red Flags of K2/Spice Abuse
- Increased heart rate
- Psychotic and violent behavior
- Suicidal thoughts and actions
K2/Spice Inside the Body
K2 largely resembles marijuana. A typical package contains a handful of dried leaves. Spice is often advertised as being “all natural,” but what’s not natural are the chemicals that are sprayed on the leaves.
For one thing, the chemicals found in spice are often vastly stronger than tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana. A user expecting the high associated with marijuana may find the high from K2 to be incapacitating. Secondly, because the chemicals in K2 change so often, it’s impossible to know what effects a particular batch of spice can create. Instead of making them high, a bag of K2 can make a user dangerously agitated, create terrifying hallucinations or give them a seizure.
And sometimes, the side effects of K2/spice are much worse, especially when someone has fallen into K2 addiction. In 2012, Emily Bauer, a teenager in Texas, wound up in a coma after smoking K2 daily for two weeks. Bauer is now partially paralyzed, blind and has severe cognitive difficulties. In 2013, three people in Colorado died after allegedly smoking synthetic marijuana.
Like so much about K2 spice, information on the long-term effects of spice exposure is hard to come by. Some users report lingering difficulties with their sight and other senses. Others are driven to psychosis. Additional studies have found a connection between heart and kidney damage and long-term K2 spice use.
Getting Help for Spice Abuse
The ever-changing legal status of K2 make it an easy drug to abuse, despite its toxicity and danger. Mission Recovery is an expert provider of treatment for K2 addiction. We provide, safe, secure and structured treatment facilities across the U.S. that are ideal for detoxing and achieving sobriety.
Mission Recovery believes in treating the patient holistically – for us, it’s not enough to simply treat the physical symptoms of addiction. We also treat patients’ minds, helping them overcome the problems that may have been created by – or drove them to – substance abuse.
And we’ll be with you every step of the way.