Synthetic Marijuana Addiction
Convenience stores stay open late, and they’re typically packed to the gills with almost anything a person might need in order to stay awake, remain alert and handle a busy day without breaking down in the process. Big jugs of coffee, sugary snacks and vitamin pills are all easy to find in stores like this, and until very recently, smart shoppers could even pick up very dangerous drugs at their local corner markets. Experts called these products “synthetic marijuana,” but users may have called them “spice” or “K2.” Those who ripped open these products were likely hoping for a quick pick-me-up experience. They may have gotten much more than they ever bargained for.
Synthetic Marijuana is a Misleading Name
Synthetic marijuana is often referred to by a number of street names, the most common being Spice. Other names include K2, Bliss, Fake Weed, Moon Rocks, Black Mamba, and Yucatan Fire. Synthetic marijuana products may look much like marijuana, as both drugs are delivered in a dried format that looks much like an herb. However, synthetic marijuana products are chemically engineered to deliver a specific type of response in people who use them, and they get their power from chemical sprays that are applied at the end of the production process. The content of that spray can vary from product to product and batch to batch, but in most cases, the drug spray is engineered to attach to specific receptors in the brain that are sometimes used by marijuana. The sensations synthetic marijuana can bring about might be much different than the experiences felt by people who abuse marijuana, however, and they might last for a longer period of time.
People who abuse marijuana often report that the drug makes them feel calm, collected, and in touch with the universe. A synthetic marijuana user interviewed by The Reader describes a much different experience. Here, the user suggests that the drug made him feel as though he was “going to suffer a psychotic episode,” as his feelings of anger and aggression rose with each hit he took. The user also felt as though he would die due to his speeding heart and raging feelings. This isn’t the sort of thing a marijuana user might relate to, but it’s a common description used by people who abuse synthetic marijuana.
Synthetic Marijuana Is Unpredictable
One of the biggest dangers of using synthetic marijuana products is that the effects they have on the user are completely unpredictable. These are illegal products that change constantly. There is no consistency and no way to know what exactly is in any given packet of this drug. A 2012 law banned several synthetic chemicals, many of which were found in synthetic marijuana, but the makers of these drugs simply made new chemicals. This only adds to the unpredictability of reactions to synthetic marijuana.
There can even be other harmful substances in products sold as synthetic marijuana. In July of 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about Spice and similar drugs after more than 200 people in multiple states and the Washington D.C. area became seriously ill from using synthetic marijuana. The products used were found to have been contaminated with rat poison and caused severe bleeding, hospitalizations, and five deaths.
Even though people who abuse synthetic marijuana don’t always have an excellent time when they’re under the influence, they can still develop strong cravings for the drug. Deep within their minds, cells seem to whisper for the drug and work to convince the person to seek the drug out again and use it, no matter what the consequences of that use might be. People might not want the drug on a rational level, but their bodies seem lost without the drug and they may be unable to resist the call. It’s hard to know how quickly this process might take to complete in a healthy person, but some people who take synthetic marijuana even once report that they’d like to take the drug again in the very near future. It’s just that addictive.
Synthetic marijuana also seems to cause a cluster of terrible symptoms in people who try to stop taking the drug. In one case study highlighted in Scientific American, a man who tried to stop smoking a synthetic marijuana product developed withdrawal symptoms within four days of his use, including:
- Cravings for drugs
- High blood pressure
Withdrawal symptoms like this can be dangerous, as people who experience them may become convinced that they just must use drugs. The sensations are scary and overwhelming, and they’re hard to ignore. When people take drugs again, the symptoms disappear. In time, people may even stop trying to quit their drug use, as they may feel that doing drugs is just less harmful than trying to live without drugs.
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Common Health Problems Associated With Synthetic Marijuana
Even while the addiction process moves forward and the person finds it difficult to stop drug use, the damage the synthetic marijuana products can do builds and builds inside the bodies of users. Some people develop heart difficulties, due to the galloping heartbeat they endure while they’re high. Others develop kidney problems due to the contaminants included in these products. Others experience seizures while they’re under the influence, and this damage can lead to long-lasting and persistent seizure disorders.
Some people who use synthetic marijuana have such terrible experiences while they’re under the influence that they visit the emergency room for help. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration, over 11,000 of the 4.9 million emergency room visits in 2010 can be attributed to synthetic marijuana. With prompt treatment, these people may have avoided some of the temporary problems associated with synthetic marijuana, but without the help of a comprehensive treatment program for marijuana addiction, the damage might continue. As mentioned, people who have addictions to synthetic marijuana continue to take the drug no matter the consequences, even if they feel terrible while they’re on the drug. Until the addiction is addressed, their lives might continue to be difficult.
Consequences of Synthetic Marijuana Abuse
One man addicted to synthetic marijuana knows about the long-term damage an addiction can cause, and he discussed that with his local news channel, News On 6. Here, the man claims that he lost jobs due to his addiction, and that he racked up huge debt while keeping his habit alive. He also stole from his family members, and sold off all of his possessions. All of the relationships he valued were ruined. Even so, the man claimed that he’d buy the drug again, if he got the chance to do so. When asked, he claimed that there was only one solution to his addiction problem: “Make them quit selling it, because that’s the only thing that’s going to stop me, is if it’s gone.” It’s a sad statement, and unfortunately, it’s not something that’s likely to happen in the near future.
Legislation is designed to keep synthetic marijuana products out of convenience stores and gas stations, but the makers of these products continue to sell them online, and they ship their products from overseas, where the laws are a bit more lax. Some pushers even sell products on American soil, tweaking their ingredient list on a regular basis in order to elude the laws and ensure that they won’t get arrested for selling their very dangerous products. As long as the products are available on the street, people might be willing to buy them, and addicts might even be willing to seek those products out.
People who don’t deal with their synthetic marijuana addiction head on might respond by transferring their addiction to some other product. For example, in a study in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, researchers found that people who abused synthetic marijuana did so because:
- They were curious.
- The drug provided a positive experience.
- The drug helped them to relax.
- They wanted to get high without the risk of failing a drug test.
It’s easy to see how users like this might transfer their synthetic marijuana addiction to some other substance when their original drug of abuse is missing or somehow unavailable. Their thought patterns haven’t changed and their opinions haven’t been modified. These factors might keep them trapped by addiction for decades, unless they get help.
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Working Through Therapy
While there is no pill or shot that can cure an addiction to synthetic marijuana products, people with these issues can benefit from comprehensive programs in which they have the opportunity to step back from life, learn about addiction and determine how their lives should change in the future. A therapist partner can clarify the issues and make the path clearer, and in time, healing really can begin. If this sounds like the kind of help you need, please call us at Alta Mira.
Our treatment program is located near San Francisco Bay, and we provide a serene environment that is conducive to deep thought and spiritual growth. We also provide professional care utilizing the latest science-based principles. We’d love to talk with you about your addiction and help you pull together a plan that can help you to heal. Please call us to find out more.