Signs Someone Is Abusing Spice

When asked to provide a definition for the word “spice,” most people begin by describing bland food that needs a little kick in order to be palatable. Parsley, sage, thyme, and cayenne may make an appearance within these descriptions, but words like “scary” or “hallucinogen” might not enter into the conversation at all, unless the person is describing the synthetic drug that’s also known as spice. This substance is making a big push for popularity among people who use drugs. For example, 11.4 percent of high school seniors who participated in the 2011 Monitoring the Future Survey admitted to using the drug within the previous month. Since the drug is so very prevalent, it makes sense for families to learn the signs and symptoms of use, so they’ll know when to step in and address the issue, should it appear inside their homes.

Acute Intoxication


People who abuse spice tend to exhibit very intense symptoms while they’re under the influence, including:

  • Vomiting
  • Agitation
  • Severe confusion
  • Chest pain

The drug can also cause people to experience severe shifts in reality, and they might see things or hear things that remain hidden to people who aren’t using drugs. In some people, these distortions last for a moment or two, but some people drift in and out of a lucid state for weeks after exposure to spice. One moment, these people may seem perfectly normal. In the next, these same people may be unable to speak or they may seem unsure of how to handle common tasks like eating or driving.

Environmental Clues


Spice is often sold in small packets that contain just one dose of the drug, and according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the packets may contain the words “not for human consumption.” Dealers may also call these products by their brand names, including:

  • K2
  • Yucatan Fire
  • Skunk
  • Fake Weed
  • Moon Rocks

When the packets are open, the materials inside might look like potpourri or herbs, and they may have no scent at all. While people who abuse these drugs might not leave their stashes out in the open, they may stockpile doses in advance, so they can ensure that they’ll have easy access to the drugs their bodies crave. Users might also throw away their wrappers in the family garbage, or they may pack their purses or backpacks with the wrappers, so they can be discarded in public trash receptacles.

Some families spot spice addictions through suspicious packages that come addressed to the person with the addiction. Since many of the ingredients in spice have been declared illegal, users might be forced to buy their drugs from dealers operating overseas, and they may get dozens of unmarked packages in the family home on a daily basis. These packages might seem innocent, as it’s common for dealers to use innocuous packaging to help users elude detection, but a clever family can open these boxes and quickly see what’s inside.

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What to Do


When the spice use has been confirmed, families will need to decide what comes next. For some families, an interventionist provides vital support, helping the family to come up with a game plan and move forward with a conversation about addiction that can persuade the person to get help. Other families choose to hold a talk on their own, without the help of a professional. Either method can be useful, but it’s vital for the family to take action. The longer the abuse stays in place, the harder it might be for the person to quit.

If you’d like to learn about how we treat spice addictions at Alta Mira, call us today. We’re happy to answer your questions.