Synthetic Marijuana Abuse Warning Signs & Dangers

The Landing provides synthetic marijuana abuse treatment for men rooted in a science-based, research-supported clinical model to ensure a healthier, more satisfying life.

Understanding Synthetic Marijuana

Learn about synthetic marijuana and substance abuse

Synthetic marijuana, otherwise known as spice or K2, is a substance that keeps growing in popularity even though the dangers linked to the use of it can be life-threatening. Synthetic marijuana consists of a chemical compound that was initially created to mimic the effects of regular marijuana. However, the many different chemicals that are used to create these compounds have led to the development of a drug that is very dangerous to consume and does much more than mimic effects of traditional marijuana. In addition, the formulation of these compounds changes often when the substance is being created, which, in turn, can cause some batches to produce a pleasant high, while other batches can lead to psychosis. Sadly, just one use of synthetic marijuana has led to death.

Similar to the abuse of any substance, as soon as individuals have started continually abusing synthetic marijuana, it can become exceptionally challenging for them to stop use without professional intervention. Even after suffering from negative consequences as a result of the abuse of this substance, many individuals find that they are not capable of stopping their habit on their own. Luckily, there are treatment options available that can help individuals defeat their compulsion to abuse synthetic marijuana.


Synthetic marijuana abuse statistics

The actual prevalence of synthetic marijuana abuse is unknown, however, there are a number of statistics regarding the dangers that the abuse of this substance can cause. For example, between January and June of 2014, poison control centers throughout the country reported almost 800 cases of synthetic marijuana exposure. Within a two-week period in March of 2014, emergency rooms within Louisiana said they treated more than 100 people for synthetic marijuana overdoses. In addition, in May of 2014, roughly 120 people within a five-day period in Texas overdosed on this substance, too.

Causes & Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for synthetic marijuana abuse

The causes and risk factors connected to determining if one is more likely to abuse synthetic marijuana are included in the following:

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, conduct disorder, and/or antisocial personality disorder are more susceptible to abusing this substance than are those who do not have the same genetic makeup.

Environmental: The environment in which an individual lives can have a tremendous impact on his or her likelihood of developing synthetic marijuana use disorder. Environmental factors, such as being exposed to the abuse of this substance or others, living within an unstable environment, or going through a great deal of trauma can all add to an individual’s chances of abusing synthetic marijuana in the future.

Risk Factors:

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

Signs & Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of synthetic marijuana abuse

Since there are a number of chemicals that are used to produce synthetic marijuana, the signs and symptoms of the abuse of this drug can be more closely determined based on the type, severity, and duration of abuse. Some of the potential signs and symptoms of this form of abuse can include:

Behavioral symptoms:

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

Physical symptoms:

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

Cognitive symptoms:

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

Psychosocial symptoms:

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


Effects of synthetic marijuana abuse

The longer that a person continues to abuse synthetic marijuana, the more likely he is to experience a number of dangerous effects. However, even a single-time use of this substance can devastate an individual. Some of the many long- and short-term effects of synthetic marijuana abuse can include:

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

Co-Occurring Disorders

Synthetic marijuana abuse and co-occurring disorders

Those with synthetic marijuana use disorder can also struggle with the following co-occurring conditions:

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

Withdrawal & Overdose

Effects of synthetic marijuana withdrawal and overdose

Effects of synthetic marijuana withdrawal: If synthetic marijuana is abused chronically, individuals put themselves at an increased risk for experiencing a period of withdrawal when they stop that abuse. The symptoms of withdrawal related to this substance will vary from person to person, however, some of the most common symptoms can include:

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

Effects of synthetic marijuana overdose: When a substance is consumed in an amount where an individual is incapable of metabolizing it, an overdose can occur. Signs that show that someone has overdosed on synthetic marijuana may include the following:

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

Take A Free Online Assessment:

After using real marijuana, I decided to try out the synthetic kind. I never would have thought that I would be addicted to it. Now, thanks to The Landing, I am 4 years sober.

– Anonymous Client
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