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Warning Signs of Spice or K2 Abuse: Emerging Addiction in Adolescents

This article looks at K2 (Spice), how to detect Spice drug addiction in adolescents, and how to pursue effective treatment options.

Spice K-2 Addiction

Addiction is a significant issue among adolescents. One challenge parents face when preventing their children from encountering substance abuse is keeping up with the latest drug trends. A recent drug commonly abused by teenagers is a synthetic cannabinoid known as Spice or K2.

Although the U.S government banned K2 in 2002, manufacturers have discovered ways to circumvent the regulation on the drug by altering its chemical content. The process of detecting the warning signs of Spice or K2 starts with understanding what exactly K2 is.

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What is Spice-K2?

Spice-K2 is a group of chemical substances known as synthetic cannabinoids—lab-made chemicals that have mind-altering effects similar to cannabinoids found in marijuana, such as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Spice can be sprayed on dried, shredded plant materials or sold in liquid form to be inhaled through vaporizers or e-cigarettes.

K2 is also referred to as fake weed because of its similarities to marijuana's appearance (when in plant form) and effects.

Understanding Spice/K2 Addiction

Spice addiction is the inability to stop the consumption of Spice drugs (or synthetic cannabinoids) despite the adverse side effects they elicit. Spice/K2’s addiction potential is much higher than marijuana’s because it binds more strongly to cannabinoid receptors in the brain and body, causing more intense marijuana-like highs and side effects.

Spice and K2 Statistics

The national number of emergency room visits due to K2 consumption in 2010 spiked to nearly thirty thousand. A study showed that between 2012 and 2015, 5% of eighth-graders and 10% of tenth- and twelfth-graders tried synthetic cannabinoids.1

In addition, data shows that nearly 75% of people who went to the emergency department for synthetic cannabinoid-related visits were between the ages of twelve and twenty-nine.2

How Is K2/Spice Abused?

The most common method of abusing K2 drugs is by smoking it—rolling the substance in a paper just like marijuana or a handmade tobacco cigarette. Other means of K2 abuse include making it into an herbal tea for drinking and inhaling Spice liquid K2 products as a vapor via e-cigarettes.

Warning Signs of Spice and K2 Abuse

Recent research shows adolescents make up 40% of Spice and K2 consumption. Thus, knowing the signs and behavioral patterns that act as indicators of synthetic Spice use and abuse is essential.3

Common Warning Signs of Adolescent K2 Abuse

While Spice and K2 abuse warning signs vary from person to person, the following includes the most common signs adolescents exhibit:

  • Mood swings
  • Poor decisions
  • Appearing high
  • Physical addiction symptoms
  • Stealing
  • Personality changes

What Are the Risks and Dangers of Spice/K2 Abuse?

Most manufacturers of K2 claim that synthetic Spice is a safer and better alternative to marijuana; however, this isn’t the case. In fact, Spice drug addiction can be very harmful.

Synthetic K2 Risk Factors

Synthetic cannabinoids often include different chemical compounds and come in high potencies, making this drug unpredictable and dangerous. Studies show that K2 fake weed is associated with more toxicity rates and hospitalization cases than natural weed.4

Side Effects of Spice and K2

In addition to the several dangers and health risks of consuming K2, Spice can have several opposing effects on normal body functioning. Physical and mental symptoms can occur, varying in severity. These Spice consumption side effects include the following:

  • Unexplained bruising or bleeding
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Tremors, muscle spasms, or seizures
  • High blood pressure and increased heart rate
  • Suicidal behaviors and thoughts
  • Extreme anxiety and agitation
  • Psychotic episodes
  • Paranoia
  • Convulsions
  • Hallucinations
  • Violence
  • Confusion and disorganized thoughts

K2/Spice Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal occurs when the body has developed dependency and tolerance to Spice/K2, usually after long-term abuse. When the use of this drug suddenly stops or reduces, Spice withdrawal symptoms can arise due to the body struggling to function without the drug.

Indications of Mild to Severe K2/Spice Withdrawal

These withdrawal symptoms can be quite difficult to deal with as the effects can range from mild to severe. They include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Tremors
  • Palpitation
  • Irritability
  • Sweating
  • Fever
  • Anxiety
Spice Drug Addiction

How to Help Someone With a K2/Spice Addiction

If someone you know is struggling with Spice drug addiction, it is important to provide help to encourage treatment and support them throughout the recovery process. Below are some tips that can help you provide effective K2 withdrawal help for your loved ones.

  • Encourage them to receive treatment or speak with a drug addiction specialist
  • Openly communicate
  • Help them find the right resources in their geographical area
  • Set boundaries for oneself
  • Go to therapy or seek medical help if necessary
  • Engage in healthy lifestyle choices

Get Help for Spice/K2 Addiction at Boardwalk Recovery

Spice drug addiction can be challenging to deal with for many reasons. However, recovery is possible with the support of professionals, peers, group therapy, and a conducive environment. If you’re looking to seek help for Spice addiction, Boardwalk Recovery is the perfect place for you.

Opportunities for Wellness and Sustainable Sobriety

At Boardwalk Recovery Center, we offer all the tools and support you need for a successful sobriety journey. Our experienced care providers understand how hard early recovery can be, so they are well-equipped to walk alongside and guide you on how to live a life free from Spice addiction. Contact us today to learn more about our recovery programs and how to get started.
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