In addition to building up a tolerance and experiencing symptoms of withdrawal, other signs of synthetic cannabinoid addiction can include:
Whether these observed symptoms will have lasting effects, particularly on adolescents and young adult users, is not yet known. Of course, smoking any substance could have negative effects on the lungs.
Originally, fake marijuana products contained a chemical called HU-210, which has a molecular structure very similar to THC. Because HU-210 is listed as a Schedule I controlled substance in the United States, these fake weed products were manufactured and sold only in Europe.
Many people buy into the idea that fake marijuana products are safe since the chemicals are “legal” and contain “natural” ingredients. However, this has proven to be false with multiple cases of severe, unexplained bleeding or bruising, and some deaths. Other reports show an increase in emergency room visits due to rapid heart rate, vomiting, violent behavior, suicidal thoughts, kidney damage, and seizures.
According to the DEA, the majority of these chemical compounds are produced in Asia with no regulations or standards. They are then smuggled into the United States where they are sprinkled onto “plant material,” packaged and ultimately sold in tobacco shops, convenience stores, and the like.
Since then, new synthetic cannabinoid agonists have been created. They are too numerous to list. Some are similar in structure to THC; others are not. Some are classified as controlled substances. By using different synthetic marijuana mixtures, manufacturers are able to continue to legally market their products in the United States when another formulation becomes illegal.
In addition to getting a recommendation from a trusted health care professional, the Partnership at DrugFree.org has a helpline and tips so families know what to ask when vetting a rehab.
* Data in brackets indicate statistically significant change from the previous year. Previous MTF Data
Spice is a mix of herbs (shredded plant material) and laboratory-made chemicals with mind-altering effects. It is sometimes misleadingly called “synthetic marijuana” or “fake weed” because some of the chemicals in it are similar to ones in marijuana. But, its effects are sometimes very different from marijuana, and often much stronger. Usually, the chemicals are sprayed onto plant materials to make them look like marijuana.
Explore teen substance use trends over time, by grade and substance with an interactive chart featuring Monitoring the Future data from 2016 to present.
Is Spice addictive?
Yes, Spice can be addictive. People who use Spice a lot may have withdrawal symptoms if they try to quit. This means they can’t stop using it even when they really want to and even after it causes terrible consequences to their health and other parts of their lives. Withdrawal symptoms can include:
Spice is most often labeled “not for human consumption” and disguised as incense. Sellers of the drug try to lead people to believe it is “natural” and therefore harmless, but it is neither. In fact, the actual effects of spice can be unpredictable and, in some cases, severe or cause death.
In a few cases, it has been linked with heart attacks and death.
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