Marijuana’s drug classification continues to be a source of ongoing debate within the legal realms due to the drug’s medicinal benefits. Albeit so, when used for recreational purposes, marijuana’s effects can breed addiction over time. In the case of synthetic marijuana, an even greater risk of abuse and addiction exists.
As with any substance capable of disrupting brain chemical processes, synthetic marijuana interferes with a range of major bodily systems, which accounts for the oftentimes-disturbing effects users experience. Considering how aggressively synthetic marijuana works, without needed treatment help users place themselves at significant risk of physical and psychological deterioration over time.
What is Synthetic Marijuana?
Also known as synthetic cannabinoids, “Spice” and “K2,” synthetic marijuana has little to do with the actual cannabis plant as far as its chemical makeup is concerned. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the designation “synthetic cannabinoid” has more to do with the effects these drugs produce than their actual chemical makeup.
Synthetic marijuana consists of man-made chemicals formulated to produce effects comparable to THC, the ingredient that produces marijuana’s “high” effects. These chemicals are then sprayed on dried plant materials and smoked, or liquefied for use with e-cigarettes and liquid incense. Commonly marketed as safe, legal alternatives to real marijuana, synthetic formulations produce unpredictable effects that can be life threatening when used in excess.
Effects of Synthetic Marijuana
In essence, synthetic marijuana contains a mixture of chemicals, a few of which are 100 times more potent than THC itself. According to the U. S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the five most commonly used chemicals in synthetic marijuana all fall within the Schedule I class of controlled substances, a class which carries the highest potential for abuse and addiction.
In effect, synthetic marijuana can produce stimulant, depressant and hallucinogenic effects in much the same way real marijuana can. Like real marijuana, synthetic-based substances interact with the brain’s own endocannabinoid system, a system that works to maintain homeostasis throughout the body while acting as a type of bridge between the body and mind. The effects of synthetic marijuana impair this system’s functions to the point where serious adverse health consequences can result, including:
- Irregular heart rhythm
- Experiencing a sense of disconnection from one’s surroundings
- Paranoid psychosis
- Panic attacks
- Suicidal thoughts and actions
More than anything else, the brain’s increasing tolerance for the effects of synthetic marijuana coupled with a person’s growing dependence on the drug to cope with daily life stressors makes for a highly addictive substance. Not unlike stimulant-type drugs, the brain’s tolerance for synthetic marijuana raises quickly, which in turn leads to bingeing behaviors where a person ingests multiple drug doses in order to prolong the “high” effect.
Ultimately, users will continue abusing synthetic marijuana in spite of the dangers surrounding the drug. If you or someone you know struggles with synthetic marijuana abuse and have questions about addiction or need help locating treatment programs in your area, please feel free to call our toll-free helpline at 800-411-9312 (Who Answers?) for more information.
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