It has often been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. This observation certainly has some merit, but applying it to the illicit drug trade would require us to ignore the greed and cynicism that motivate drug dealers and their minions. So-called synthetic marijuana, for example, does not in any way “flatter” the real drug; those marketing this substance to kids are taking advantage of marijuana’s relatively benign reputation to peddle drugs that are habit-forming and loaded with chemical agents of destruction.
On the street, synthetic marijuana is more commonly known as Spice. This name was no doubt chosen because it implies the drug is no more potent or dangerous than something a teen might pull out of the spice rack to sprinkle on his food at home. In the drug milieu, things are never what they seem, however, as harmless names are often used to disguise the truth about highly hazardous substances.
Spice – Tries To Chemically Mimic THC, But Much More Strong And Dangerous
Spice is a generic term for dozens of different herbal preparations that have been sprayed with synthetic cannabinoids modeled after THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. These drugs were created in secret laboratories by rogue scientists who’ve sold their souls for money, and consequently they have not been studied extensively by mainstream medicine and often don’t even have names. But preliminary evidence suggests these synthetic substances bind more strongly to marijuana-sensitive brain receptors than THC, and thus are capable of delivering powerful neurological jolts that don’t much resemble the impact of conventional marijuana.
Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act
Until 2012, Spice was sold legally online, in convenience stores and in head shops under a multitude of names (K2, Moon Rocks, Yucatan Fire, Mr. Nice Guy, etc.). It was marketed as incense and labeled “not fit for human consumption.” But this ruse fooled no one, especially not law enforcement officials.
After reports of injuries following apparent overdoses, a number of states passed their own legislation outlawing these products. The federal government finally took decisive action in July 2012 when President Obama added his signature to the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act that added all varieties of synthetic marijuana to the government’s list of prohibited substances.
Spice Abuse By The Numbers
Because this synthetic designer drug hasn’t been around as long as other intoxicants, it has taken some diligent detective work to uncover the truth about Spice’s effect on the human body. Most of our knowledge comes from anecdotal evidence, and based on thousands of these first- and secondhand reports, we now know that synthetic marijuana consumption can cause a broad range of treacherous biological reactions.
The most common side effects of a bad Spice trip include:
- increased blood pressure
- elevated heart rate
- reduced cardiovascular blood flow
- suicidal thoughts (and actions)
- heart attacks
Spice And Death
At least a few hundred people in the United States are believed to have died from overdose, heart failure or suicide related to Spice abuse. But hard and fast fatality statistics are hard to come by, since the synthetic substances used in Spice often don’t show up in post-mortem blood tests unless a careful effort is made to find them. Sadly, a good portion of the deaths occurring in synthetic marijuana consumers have involved adolescents, who make up one of the most profitable constituencies for Spice dealers and manufacturers.
No doubt because of the change in its legal status, Spice use among teens dropped by more than 30 percent between 2012 and 2013. Nevertheless, the most recent edition of the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Monitoring the Future series found that 7.9 percent of all adolescents had smoked some version of synthetic marijuana within the last 12 months, which means this substance is the second-most abused illicit drug among teens (trailing only marijuana). Teenage boys were twice as likely to have tried Spice as teenage girls.
If Spice use is dropping because of availability issues, this can only be considered a good thing. In 2011, just before its legal sale was prohibited, Spice was mentioned as a source of ailment by 28,531 emergency room patients, which represented a 250 percent increase from 2010 alone. Meanwhile, calls to poison control centers by Spice users peaked in 2012, when 5,230 people rang hotlines to ask for help following consumption of this drug. In the year immediately preceding the change in Spice’s legal status in the United States, a stunning 11.3 percent of all teens—one in nine—tried this potent substance at least once.
Synthetic Drugs Create Real Addictions
Young people in particular are far too willing to experiment with strange chemical concoctions that promise a new and exciting kind of kick. Beyond all of the damage it can do to the bodies and minds of teens, Spice has demonstrated addictive qualities that can neither be denied nor ignored. Its powerful effects parallel the neurological influences of harder illicit drugs more closely than they mimic marijuana, and kids who believe this synthetic alternative is natural and safe have been seriously misinformed.
Seizures, heart attacks, psychotic breakdowns and suicide attempts could all be in the future of Spice users who succumb to addiction. Compulsive synthetic marijuana consumption is a life-threatening disorder pure and simple, and teens with Spice dependencies are in dire need of professional intervention.
Fortunately, there is great hope for teens who have fallen victim to the allure of this misunderstood intoxicant. Addiction treatment experts have seen enough of synthetic marijuana to know what must be done to rescue vulnerable young men and women from the grasping clutches of this devious designer drug.
Learn More About The Dangers Of Synthetic Drug NBOMe