- Spice Overdose
- Spice Withdrawal
- Symptoms of Spice Withdrawal
- Treatment: Detox
- Treatment: Medications
- Finding a Rehab Program
- How to Care for Someone Going Through Withdrawal
What is Spice?Spice is a synthetic cannabinoid that can produce a wide variety of effects, including mild euphoria and hallucinations. Despite the dangers, many forms are still legal in the United States and continue to be sold in smoke shops, gas stations and on the Internet.
In 2011, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) placed five synthetic cannabinoids on the Schedule I class of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Unfortunately, manufacturers are able to change a single molecule in the chemical makeup of Spice to produce a similar product that has not been placed on the DEA’s Schedule I list. In doing so, those producing these drugs are able to keep a slightly modified, yet similarly risky substance available for purchase on a legal market.
Many reported side effects from Spice are transient and, for the most part, mild. These include:
Abnormally fast heart rate.
Increased blood pressure.
Because the effects of Spice can differ from person to person in intensity and severity, it may be difficult to determine if someone is experiencing overdose or just a strong reaction to the drug. The more serious side effects of Spice overdose include:
Suicidal thinking or actions.
In 2013, there were 2,613 calls to poison control centers regarding synthetic cannabinoid (Spice) exposure, and in 2010, 3.8% of calls were related to seizures caused by synthetic cannabinoids. As cannabinoid abuse has grown, so has the prevalence of reported cases of acute kidney injury and renal failure.
Understanding the Causes of Spice Overdose
You Are Not Alone
Browse a range of treatment options for Spice addiction, including rehab center amenities, specializations, and alumni reviews.
When to get Help/What to do in an Emergency
With known dangerous health effects resulting from Spice use, it is important to acknowledge the very real possibility of overdose. The most important thing to do if you suspect that someone may be experiencing Spice overdose is to call 911 and get them professional medical assistance as soon as possible.
There have been unfortunate cases of sudden heart attacks in Spice users three to seven days after using. Spice has also been associated with several deaths from other causes, including death by suicide. It is vital that Spice abuse and overdose be treated properly in order to avoid these potentially fatal consequences.
How to Avoid an Overdose
The safest way to avoid an overdose is to not use Spice at all. There are other behaviors that may also increase a person’s risk of Spice overdose, including:
Using marijuana obtained from questionable sources – there have been reports of Spice being used to “cut” supplies of real marijuana, or outright replace it prior to being sold.
Smoking from someone else’s “e-cigarette” – synthetic cannabinoid oil may be consumed using vapes or e-cigs.
Using other drugs (such as methamphetamine or heroin) – combining drugs always increases your risk for multiple substance overdose.
Mild to moderate Spice users are not likely to experience significant withdrawal symptoms, but may have mild anxiety and difficulty sleeping. The longer you use Spice, the more likely you are to experience withdrawal symptoms.
If you are a heavy user, withdrawal symptoms may be more severe and prolonged. Spice affects the cannabinoid 1 and 2 receptors (CB1R, CB2R) throughout the body, which are the same receptors that marijuana acts on.
Symptoms of Spice Withdrawal
Symptoms of Spice withdrawal closely resemble those of cannabis withdrawal. Research into cannabinoid pharmacology has elucidated a few symptoms commonly experienced at the outset of Spice recovery:
The most uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms – such as sweating, nausea and vomiting – will typically resolve within a week. Some longer-lasting residual symptoms have been noted, however, and can include:
Withdrawal Symptom Severity
In some instances, an individual withdrawing from Spice can present with life-threatening complications. Seizures and breathing problems are such severe symptoms of Spice withdrawal, and in rare cases the patient may even require mechanical breathing assistance.
Professional monitoring during Spice withdrawal helps to mitigate these potentially life-threatening situations.
It may be important for those abusing Spice and/or other synthetic cannabinoids to seek professionally-monitored medical detox.
Is Detox from Spice Dangerous?
The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) also reports serious physical side effects that include:
Increased heart rate.
Increased blood pressure.
Elevated body temperature.
These and the aforementioned side effects can make detox from Spice an extremely unpleasant and potentially dangerous process without medical supervision.
What to Expect During Spice Detoxification
Spice Signs and Treatment are Complicated
Spice and other synthetic cannabinoids are only recently gaining attention as drugs of abuse. Many toxicology tests aren’t yet sophisticated enough to detect these substances, so they often pass undetected in urine drug screens. In addition, clinical signs of Spice use may be unspecific, making proper treatment protocol for this relatively new type of drug difficult to narrow down.
There is limited data on Spice abuse recovery, but there has been promising research into the treatment of the most commonly experienced detox symptoms and the corresponding pharmacological treatments. Treatment options include:
Phenobarbital for seizure precaution.
Benzodiazepines for anxiety.
Clonidine for high blood pressure.
Other medications – including the antihistamine/sedative Vistaril and tricyclic antidepressant trazodone – can be used throughout treatment to help with post-acute withdrawal symptoms.
Naltrexone – an addiction pharmacotherapeutic agent utilized primarily for alcohol and opioid treatment – has shown promising results in reducing the withdrawal symptoms of anxiety and depression in recovering Spice users.
Medication may be helpful, but it is only one part of treatment for Spice abuse. Long-term recovery success rates increase when medications are combined with:
Finding a Rehab Program
Here is what you need to know about choosing a program that is right for you.
Inpatient Spice Treatment versus Outpatient Programs
Choosing the Best Spice Detox Center
When trying to choose the best Spice detox center for yourself or your loved one, the following factors should be considered:
Does the facility have on-site access to medical doctors, mental health care professionals and case managers?
Is there round-the-clock medical supervision?
Is medically assisted detox available?
What are common detox medications administered?
What are the participation expectations in treatment?
Are referrals given for continuing care once detox is complete?
- What payment options are available (i.e. private insurance)?
Make sure to ask these questions to the rehab center you are considering.
How to Care for Someone Going Through Withdrawal
Supportive care should be provided to someone experiencing Spice withdrawal. Outside of a hospital or inpatient setting, maintaining support of the patient’s recovery and helping them stick to their treatment plan is the most helpful thing a friend or family member can provide.
This may include administering outpatient medications, keeping the environment quiet and stress-free, and regulating temperature. Emotional support is also a vital factor in providing a positive environment for recovery.
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