Synthetic Marijuana Addiction Signs & Symptoms

Understanding Synthetic Marijuana Abuse

Learn About Synthetic Marijuana Addiction

Synthetic marijuana, which is often referred to as “spice” or “K2,” is a substance that continues to gain popularity even though the dangers associated with its use can be serious. This substance contains a synthetic chemical compound that was first created to mimic the effects of natural marijuana; however the many chemicals that are used to create these compounds have established a drug that is very dangerous and produces more potent effects than regular marijuana. In addition, the formulation of these compounds changes often when the substance is being made, causing many batches to have varying toxicities. Therefore, one individual can use synthetic marijuana and develop a euphoric high, while another individual could use a different batch of marijuana and find oneself in a state of psychosis. Sadly, just one use of synthetic marijuana can lead to death.

Similar to the abuse of any other substance, as soon as individuals have started using synthetic marijuana, it can be incredibly challenging to overcome their abuse without the help of professionals. Even after experiencing many negative repercussions as a result of synthetic marijuana abuse, a number of people will find that they are incapable of stopping their use. Luckily, there are options for treatment that can help individuals put an end to their compulsive desire to abuse synthetic marijuana.


Synthetic Marijuana Addiction Statistics

While the actual prevalence of synthetic marijuana abuse is not known at this time, there are a number of statistics that show the many dangers that the abuse of this drug has lead to. For instance, between January and June of 2014, poison centers nationwide reported that almost 800 cases of synthetic marijuana exposure occurred. During a two-week period in March of 2014, emergency departments in Louisiana reported that more than 100 people were treated for synthetic marijuana overdoses. Shortly after that in May of 2014, 120 people suffered from synthetic marijuana overdoses within five days in Texas.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and Risk Factors for Synthetic Marijuana Addiction

The causes and risk factors connected to determining if an individual is more likely to abuse synthetic marijuana can include:

Genetic: Similar to other substance use disorders, the development of synthetic marijuana use disorder is said to have a genetic link. Those with a family history of substance use disorders, antisocial personality disorder, and/or conduct disorders are more susceptible to abuse this drug than those who do not have the same genetic background.

Environmental: The environment in which one lives can have a tremendous impact on if he or she will develop synthetic marijuana use disorder. Factors such as being witness to the abuse of synthetic marijuana or other drugs, being brought up in an unstable home, or going through a great deal of trauma can all affect an individual’s likelihood of abusing synthetic marijuana.

Risk Factors:

  • Struggling with behavioral disinhibition
  • Personal or family history of conduct disorder or antisocial personality disorder
  • Possessing limited self-control
  • Ease of availability to the substance
  • Personal or family history of other substance use disorders
  • Experiencing trauma
  • Beginning to abuse drugs and/or alcohol at an early age
  • Suffering from childhood maltreatment

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Synthetic Marijuana Addiction

Because there are many different chemicals used to make synthetic marijuana, the signs and symptoms of the abuse of this drug can vary in severity, type, and duration. Some of the potential signs and symptoms of synthetic marijuana abuse can include:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Decline in occupational performance
  • Inappropriate laughter
  • No longer participating in activities that were once enjoyed
  • Social withdrawal
  • Physical aggression
  • Continually increasing the dosage of the substance consumed or the frequency with which it is consumed
  • Failing to fulfill obligations at work or at home
  • Belligerence

Physical symptoms:

  • Impaired motor coordination
  • Panic attacks
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Confusion
  • Paranoid ideation
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Psychosis
  • Impaired judgment
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Emotional detachment
  • Fluctuating moods
  • Agitation and irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Mania
  • Feelings of euphoria


Effects of Synthetic Marijuana Addiction

The longer than synthetic marijuana abuse continues, the more likely an individual becomes to suffer from a variety of damaging effects. However, even one single use of this substance has been known to cause permanent and fatal consequences. Examples of some of the long and short-term effects of the abuse of this substance can include:

  • Chronic suicidal ideation
  • Disturbed relationships
  • Self-harm
  • Heart attack
  • Familial discord
  • Stroke
  • Psychosis
  • Decline in occupational functioning
  • Onset of, or worsening of current, symptoms of other mental health conditions
  • Need for hospitalization

Co-Occurring Disorders

Synthetic Marijuana Addiction and Co-Occurring Disorders

Those who abuse synthetic marijuana might also battle with the following co-occurring disorders:

  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Other substance use disorders
  • Conduct disorder

Withdrawal & Overdose

Know the Effects of Synthetic Marijuana Withdrawal & Overdose

Effects of synthetic marijuana withdrawal: If this substance is abused continually, individuals place themselves at risk for going through withdrawal when their use is stopped. The symptoms of withdrawal will vary from individual to individual, however some examples of the most common symptoms of withdrawal can include:

  • Experiencing hunger, yet not being able to keep food down
  • Nausea
  • Violent temper tantrums
  • Diarrhea
  • Hot and cold flashes
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Cravings for synthetic marijuana
  • Lethargy

Effects of synthetic marijuana overdose: When a substance like synthetic marijuana is consumed at a rate that an individual’s body is unable to metabolize it, an overdose is likely to occur. Signs that might show than an individual has overdosed on synthetic marijuana can include:

  • Lapsing into a coma
  • Seizures
  • Heart attack
  • Derealization
  • Hallucinations
  • Depersonalization
  • Stroke
  • Delusions