Spice is also known as synthetic marijuana, K2, “fake weed,” and the “zombie drug.” Sale of spice began in the early 2000s, and there are currently more than 150 different spice drug compounds. Moreover, teens and young adults are among the demographics most likely to use the drug spice.
What Is Spice Abuse?
Spice is a chemically produced drug made to look like marijuana. Synthetic cannabinoids are sprayed on plant material to mimic marijuana. However, spice drugs actually have a different chemical makeup that acts differently in the brain. Specifically, they activate the CB1 receptor in the brain to a greater degree than does the THC in marijuana. Therefore, they have mind-altering effects that are typically much stronger than those produced by marijuana. Thus, spice abuse can have intense and dangerous symptoms.
Spice can be smoked, used to make tea, or vaporized in liquid form in e-cigarettes. Symptoms of spice abuse include anxiety, confusion, increased heart rate, vomiting, violent behavior, and suicidal thoughts. Moreover, according to a 2017 review of spice use, the drug can also produce seizures, paranoia, hallucinations, heart attacks, and death. Consequently, the Centers for Disease Control report that thousands of people call poison centers annually after using synthetic cannabinoids. The year 2015 had the highest number of spice-related calls, at 7,794.
Most spice drugs are illegal in the US. Therefore, spice makers frequently change their chemical formulas to circumvent these laws. That makes spice especially dangerous, because the effects of the chemicals in the drugs are often unknown and unpredictable.