Symptoms of Synthetic Marijuana Addiction

Understanding Synthetic Marijuana Abuse

Learn About Synthetic Marijuana Addiction

Synthetic marijuana, also called K2 or spice, is a designer drug that was originally created to mimic the high that is associated with traditional marijuana. Originally thought of as a safe, nontoxic alternative to traditional marijuana, K2 has proved to be a very dangerous and even deadly substance. Even more upsetting, due to the various chemicals that are used in the production of this drug, users can never be completely sure of what mixture of chemicals they are putting in their body.

Abusing synthetic marijuana can lead to countless negative consequences. Additionally, developing an addiction to this drug can almost ensure a decline in an individual’s overall mental and physical health. In some cases even one hit of this drug has been known to produce intense psychotic episodes. Fortunately, there are synthetic marijuana abuse treatment options in existence that can help people defeat this perilous type of substance abuse.

Co-Occurring Disorders

Synthetic Marijuana Abuse and Co-Occurring Disorders

It is very common for someone who has been abusing synthetic marijuana to also suffer from the presence of a co-occurring mental illness. The following mental health conditions are frequently diagnosed in individuals who abuse this substance:

  • Additional substance use disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depressive disorders
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Eating disorders
  • Bipolar disorder


Synthetic Marijuana Abuse Statistics

Poison control centers and hospitals reported that in 2014, approximately 800 patients required emergency medical attention after using synthetic marijuana. Additionally, in the spring of that same year, over 300 people suffered from synthetic marijuana overdoses.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and Risk Factors for Synthetic Marijuana Abuse

There are many different factors that can play a role in the development of an addiction to substances such as synthetic marijuana. The most commonly referred to causes and risk factors that can make an individual vulnerable to abusing synthetic marijuana are as follows:

Genetic: Research has found that an individual’s genetics are often a strong determinant for the development of a substance abuse addiction. This finding suggests that when individuals have a family history of substance abuse and addiction they are more likely to abuse substances themselves.

Environmental: The environment an individual is immersed in can have a large impact on whether or not he or she will begin abusing substances such as synthetic marijuana. For example, should an individual be exposed to substance abuse at a young age, the risk for developing a substance abuse problem increases.

Risk Factors:

  • Being male
  • Family and/or personal history of substance abuse
  • Poorly developed coping skills
  • Personal history of mental illness
  • Family history of mental illness
  • Exposure to crime and/or violence
  • Exposure to trauma

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Synthetic Marijuana Abuse

There are many different signs and symptoms that become apparent when an individual is abusing synthetic marijuana. Some of the most common signs and symptoms may include:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Increased conflict with others
  • Poor occupational performance
  • Frequent absences from work
  • Possessing drug paraphernalia
  • Drastic shifts in energy levels
  • Aggressive behaviors and/or sudden outburst of anger

Physical symptoms:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Fluctuations in blood pressure
  • Numbness in hands, arms, feet, and/or legs
  • Nausea
  • Chest pains
  • Muscle spasms
  • Headaches
  • Seizures
  • Panic attacks

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Psychosis
  • Extreme confusion
  • Depersonalization
  • Derealization
  • Paranoia
  • Disorientation

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Mania
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Anxious feelings
  • Depressed feelings
  • Emotional detachment / numbness
  • Drastic shifts in mood


Effects of Synthetic Marijuana Addiction

SynMarijuanarijuana is still a relatively new drug, so the long-term effects are still not fully understood. However, because of the multiple hospitalizations and deaths that have occurred as a direct result of using this drug, some severe consequences have been documented. In addition to sudden death, the following severe effects have been observed:

  • Hindered occupational performance and loss of employment
  • Destroyed interpersonal relationships
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Development of certain cancers
  • Onset of psychosis
  • Engagement in self-harming behaviors
  • Suicidal ideation and behaviors
  • Need for hospitalization
  • Overdose

Withdrawal and Overdose

Effects of Synthetic Marijuana Withdrawal and Overdose

Effects of synthetic marijuana withdrawal: Withdrawal symptoms may occur if an individual who has been abusing synthetic marijuana for a prolonged period of time suddenly stops using. The following often unpleasant symptoms are known to occur during synthetic marijuana withdrawal:

  • Fluctuations in body temperature
  • Experiencing flu-like symptoms
  • Lethargy
  • Heightened anxiety
  • Aggressive outbursts
  • Diarrhea
  • Feeling hungry, but unable to eat
  • Cravings for synthetic marijuana

Effects of synthetic marijuana overdose: Those who abuse synthetic marijuana place themselves at a constant risk for an overdose. The following signs are those that indicate that a person has consumed an amount of synthetic marijuana that his or her body cannot metabolize and is most likely suffering from an overdose:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Derealization
  • Depersonalization
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Stroke
  • Seizures
  • Heart attack
  • Coma
  • Death

After getting tired of regular marijuana, I thought I would change it up with "spice" or synthetic marijuana. After an intervention, I ultimately decided my life was more important than some drug. I am about to celebrate my first year of being sober, and look forward to many more with the supportive and effective staff at Starlite Recovery Center by my side.

– Scott S.