Synthetic Cannabis

Synthetic Cannabis
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Synthetic cannabis—also known as Spice, K2, or Synthetic Cannabinoids—is a lab-developed drug that is more potent and damaging than marijuana. It can be smoked like marijuana, but it can also be prepared and mixed into drinks or edibles. Because synthetic cannabis is more dangerous, it’s important for those struggling with addiction to get proper treatment. 

scientist checking organic hemp wild plants in a cannabis weed commercial greenhouse. Concept of herbal alternative medicine, cbd oil, pharmaceptical industry

What Is Synthetic Cannabis

Synthetic cannabinoids are man-made chemicals that produce a similar effect to the chemicals found in marijuana. While they are occasionally touted as safer alternatives to marijuana, the fact is, they may affect the brain much more than marijuana and can create unpredictable and more life-threatening effects. 

How Does Synthetic Cannabis Affect the Body? 

There is no such thing as a safe level of drug use. Like any drug, synthetic cannabis carries risks that can differ depending on:

  • Your height  
  • Your weight
  • Your health
  • The dosage consumed
  • The exact chemical structure used during manufacturing
  • The purity of the synthetic cannabis

What Are the Short-Term Effects of Synthetic Cannabis

Because synthetic cannabis is similar to marijuana, the short-term effects are similar. However, it also carries some additional negative and potentially more harmful short-term side effects. Those include, but are not limited to: 

  • Racing thoughts
  • Sleepiness and dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Fast and irregular heartbeat
  • Agitation, anxiety, and paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Chest pain
  • Breathing problems
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Muscle damage
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Stroke
  • Psychosis
  • Aggressive and violent behavior
  • Acute kidney injury
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Death

What Are the Long-Term Effects of Synthetic Cannabis?

Since synthetic cannabis has only been on the market since 2008 in the US (although the chemicals used in its creation have been around since as early as the 1980s), researchers are still collecting data about its long-term effects. This is dangerous because, unlike other regulated medications, there is no research that shows what could happen after years or decades of extended and consistent use. 

Is It Possible to Overdose on Synthetic Cannabis

Yes, it is possible for a person to overdose on synthetic cannabis. Overdoses can include:

  • Toxic reactions
  • Raised blood pressure
  • Reduced blood supply to the heart and brain
  • Kidney damage
  • Seizures

Because synthetic cannabis can easily be mixed with additional chemicals or drugs, there are also dangers for people to overdose due to narcotic additives. When synthetic opioids like fentanyl are added, overdosing can lead to death. 

Woman suffering anxiety attack on city street

What Are the Withdrawal Symptoms of Synthetic Cannabis

Synthetic cannabis is an addictive substance people can become dependent on. Potential withdrawal symptoms include: 

  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Severe anxiety
  • Sweating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Paranoia
  • Panic attacks
  • Mood swings
  • Agitation and irritability
  • Breathing problems
  • Chest pain
  • Palpitations
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Seizures 

What Are the Treatment Options for Addiction to Synthetic Cannabis

Think of treatment in the same way you think about your physical health. A doctor that only focuses on the surface symptoms would fixate on something like a cough and prescribe decongestants while ignoring what caused it. 

This treatment plan might yield short-term results but would only give the infection time to grow and mutate. The better way to approach physical health is to treat the symptoms and the causes behind those symptoms.

Treating the Underlying Cause

In mental health, addiction is only a symptom. True, the symptom is damaging and dangerous, but it still only indicates much more profound emotional concerns. 

To treat an addiction to synthetic cannabis, therapists and counselors look beyond the symptom and address the foundational illness to make lasting changes. This helps prevent relapses and new addictions and can lead to lasting and meaningful changes. Addiction experts utilize behavior therapy, counseling, and other proven treatments.

Stressed black man explaining his problems to psychologist at individual therapy session

Addiction treatment is not only about obtaining sobriety; it is about identifying and treating the foundational trauma an addict suffers from, which leads to lasting recovery.

Pinnacle Treatment Centers Can Help

If you, or a loved one, suffers from addiction or addictive behaviors, Pinnacle Treatment Centers can help. Contact us today to take the first step toward recovery. 

The materials provided on the Pinnacle Blog are for information and educational purposes only. No behavioral health or any other professional services are provided through the Blog and the information obtained through the Blog is not a substitute for consultation with a qualified health professional. If you are in need of medical or behavioral health treatment, please contact a qualified health professional directly, and if you are in need of emergency help, please go to your nearest emergency room or dial 911.