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Drugs & Health Blog

“Spice” – Not as Fun as it Sounds

Sara Bellum

Spice—also known as K2, Fake Marijuana, Skunk, and other names—is a synthetic (or man-made) substance made from shredded dried plant materials and chemicals.  Spice appears to stimulate the same brain receptors—molecules that recognize specific chemicals and transmit messages into cells—as marijuana does and produces a similar “high.”

Like marijuana, Spice is usually abused by smoking, but it can be prepared as a drink.

Because Spice is marketed as being “natural,” some people may think it’s safe to use.  But the ingredients used to make Spice can vary, and no one’s watching to see what people producing Spice are using—meaning the results could have dangerous effects on your body and brain.  Some mixtures even contain harmful metal residues.

Nothing Nice

Spice is illegal in the United States and in most European countries.  The U.S. Naval Academy recently expelled seven midshipmen for using it.

Spice products are labeled “not fit for human consumption” and are illegal in the United States and most European countries. Its side effects, like the ingredients, often vary, but emergency rooms report seeing people with rapid heart rates, vomiting, agitation, and hallucinations.

Using Spice can lead to abuse and even addiction as the body builds up tolerance to the drug’s effects over time and craves a higher dose to achieve the same effect.

So, SBB’s recommendation?  Get your highs the natural way: exercise, friends, music, whatever you like to do—without altering your brain’s chemistry!

Comments

Have a good friend who I've known since I was 7 years old. I'm 19 now. She has been smoking weed since she was in middle school and started smoking spice heavily in high school when her boyfriend was arrested and could not smoke weed. Long story short, she has since been diagnosed bi-polar/manic-depressive (if you don't know about manic depression go do your research). She is deathly skinny, and I won't mention the other harmful affects it has done to her. She's not even the same person. This girl used to be model gorgeous, and now I can literally see her body rotting away. I cannot stress the potential dangers of this drug. It is an even stronger gateway drug than marijuana is. Since smoking spice, my friend has tried several other drugs which I won't mention, and it has seriously ruined her brain. I have good reason to believe she is also addicted to it, after she freaked out when she couldn't find it. Please think before you put something you don't know about in your body and do your research first. Everything you do has consequences, and it's your choice to determine whether the consequences are worth it. We live in a generation which can't seem to face the fact that we aren't invincible. We ignore cold hard facts because we place our wants and desires before our needs. At some point we need to face the facts and grow up.
I started smoking spice because I had drug tests at work and smoked weed and didn't want to get caught. I though spice was the best thing in the world. It got me to quit smoking pot after like 10 years of smoking. But man do I wish I wouldn't have turned to that crap. I was worthless when I smoked it. Wife divorced me. Got fired from my job cause I showed up high and they knew (even though I passed the drug test at the time). Lost my kids cuz the ex wouldn't bring them around me. It ridiculous. I was successfull before I smoked incense but now I am just trying to get back to normal. I found that reading about everyone's experiences helped me realize that I needed to quit. I guess cause I saw how big of a loser I was being. I found this website called http://spiceaddictionsupport.org and read people's stories and the same things were happening to me :( I thought there was some other reason why I was sweating from doing nothing and forgetting everything. It was crazy. I quit that day and haven't touched it since. It has been 5 months and I still get cravings and I still am not 100% back to normal cuz I think it fried my brain a bit. It's tough to write stuff like this cause I forgot a lot of the words to use and how to spell them. Kinda sucks but hopefully I will get better. Does anyone else have this problem with writing? If you are reading this and are trying to figure out if you should quit then you should and if you wondering if you are addicted then you are. Just quit today cause you are killing yourself and your brain.
drugs are dum a lot of people use them but im not intrested. though theres a lot of pressure to use i dont think its worth it.
I am a nurse in a psych unit. We keep getting these kids, often they must go to an institution because they just can't recover from the brain damage. What is sad is that many thought they were smoking pot and actually got "ripped off" getting this garbage. Not that pot is good, but but really!!! Go bungee jump if you are that desperate for a thrill, your chances of surviving are much better. Another group of these kids had it slipped in their drinks by clowns thinking it would be funny at a party or card game. They are now dead, or in a psych unit for life, with others who are throwing their own stool all day. I am furious over this. Parents devastated, because as I said, their kid thought he was with friends, or was just trying to fit in, and was basically murdered by the junk. Someone should find the owners of these companies , post their photo on billboards with photos of their family members who are getting rich selling chemicals from under their kitchen sink to dumb vulnerable kids.
Is there any statistical data about the ill effects of "spice"? There seem to be lots of anecdotal claims (see the "Very Sad Nurse" above) but in looking around for any real data it seems the number of actual deaths is in the low single digits. I haven't seen any real reports of anyone being condemned to a "psych unit for life". This is not to say that people should smoke it, but by making something out to be so much worse than it really is, you undercut your message when people actually see others using it without the supposedly rampant ill effects. It also seems a bit short sighted to not include alcohol in the list of drug facts. As it is one of the top 2 most abused drugs (both of the top 2 being legal), I would think it would get some mention. Again, undercutting the message when such obvious drugs are ignored.

@Anon, unfortunately we're still learning how Spice can affect your health.  There aren't any studies available yet, but we know from Poison Control Centers that Spice can cause rapid heart rate, vomiting, agitation, confusion, and hallucinations.  Spice can also raise blood pressure and reduce blood supply to the heart.  

Regarding alcohol, we agree that it can be a dangerous drug.  Our sister agency, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, has a lot of great information.  

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