Synthetic cannabinoids are growing in popularity. This is partly due to a common misconception that these substances are a safe and legal alternative to natural marijuana. However, this could not be further from the truth.
Not only are these drugs illegal in the US and other countries, but they pose a serious risk to your health. Using synthetic marijuana can have dangerous consequences including addiction and overdose.
If you have taken synthetic cannabinoids it is important to get advice from a trained professional. In circumstances where an overdose is suspected, call 911 for immediate medical attention because a synthetic marijuana overdose can be life threatening.
To avoid adverse consequences, it is important to seek help for your synthetic marijuana abuse as soon as possible. In the event of addiction, you will require a medical detox to overcome physical dependence.
At Cornerstone, our specialized team can assist with all forms of substance abuse. We offer addiction treatment as well as ongoing support throughout your recovery. The treatment process can be daunting, but our experts are here to help you every step of the way.
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What is Synthetic Marijuana?
Synthetic cannabinoids, also known as k2, spice, or fake weed, consist of manmade chemical compounds designed to act like the psychoactive substances in natural marijuana. The drug molecules of synthetic cannabinoids bind to the same cell receptors as that of cannabinoids in the cannabis plant.
Synthetic marijuana is often sprayed onto plant matter to resemble marijuana or a herbal incense which is then smoked. Sometimes it comes in a liquid format for e-cigarettes and vaping. These are often labeled as not fit for human consumption.
Studies have found that synthetic marijuana is more potent and dangerous than natural marijuana, as well as very harmful to your health.
There are both genetic and environmental factors for drug abuse and addiction. Addiction is an illness that deserves medical attention rather than shame. You might have a higher risk for synthetic marijuana abuse and other drug use if you have had any of the following:
- Family history of substance abuse and addiction
- Mental illness exposure
- Lack of parental involvement/poor parenting
- Exposure to violence and crime
- Easy access to drugs
Other risk factors include co occurring disorders such as alcohol use disorder (AUD) or other existing substance use disorders (SUD). Many mental health problems are also known to cooccur with substance use including anxiety disorders, depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and posttraumatic stress disorder. If you are struggling with coping mechanisms for mental health problems, it is important to get the right help and medication. Illegal drugs are never the answer.
Despite a federal ban, synthetic marijuana is popular among young people such as high school seniors. This might be because young people who want to begin experimenting with drugs think that synthetic marijuana is a safe option. If you have taken synthetic marijuana or any other illegal drugs, talk to a trusted person for support. This could be a friend or a medical professional.
Help is available at Cornerstone for anyone struggling with synthetic marijuana abuse. You are not alone.
What are the Effects of Synthetic Cannabinoids?
Despite its name, synthetic marijuana is not an alternative to organic marijuana and its effects are very different. Although smoking synthetic marijuana can give some similar effects to that of actual marijuana such as euphoria and relaxation, most users experience various adverse effects including:
- Severe anxiety
- Violent behavior
- Fast heart rate
- Rapid breathing
- High blood pressure
- Chest pain
- Nausea and vomiting
The only way to ensure you are safe from the effects of synthetic marijuana is to not take it. If you are struggling with this, help is available through American addiction centers as well as support groups. We appreciate this can sometimes be a daunting task. That's why here at Cornerstone, we offer comprehensive care plans so you can focus on healing and recovery.
What are the Risks of Synthetic Marijuana?
There are many risks of synthetic marijuana use, even sometimes resulting in death.
Possible short and long term health problems caused by taking synthetic cannabinoids include:
- Memory loss
- Heart attack
- Acute Kidney Failure
- Withdrawal symptoms
People with existing mental health issues such as anxiety are at risk of synthetic cannabinoids exacerbating symptoms. In addition, scientific studies have found there is a risk of users developing psychosis, particularly if they are susceptible to mental illness. However, no one who uses synthetic marijuana is safe from these risks, even without existing mental illness.
Reports have also found cases of synthetic cannabinoid use causing kidney failure, although it is not exactly known why. Another reason why synthetic cannabinoids are dangerous is because there is absolutely no way of knowing what might be in them. This is true of all street drugs and why they are never recommended for use.
There is also a risk of overdose when taking synthetic marijuana, even from first use or taking the same dose as you have previously. This is because there is no way of knowing the strength and potency of the drug at any given time. When you take synthetic marijuana, there is always the risk of overdose.
For your health and wellbeing, it is in your best interest to stop taking synthetic cannabinoids. It can be incredibly difficult to stop taking drugs without professional help, which is why it is recommended to consult a treatment center for advice and support.
Synthetic Marijuana Overdose Symptoms?
Taking natural marijuana does not generally result in an overdose. However, the same cannot be said for synthetic marijuana which can be extremely strong.
Signs and symptoms if a synthetic marijuana overdose include:
- Behavioral symptoms such as aggression and paranoia
- Nausea and vomiting
- Heart palpitations and chest pains
If you or someone else is experiencing overdose effects, call 911. A synthetic marijuana overdose is always a medical emergency.
Immediate medical care is required for the best chance of recovery. This is because in some cases, synthetic marijuana overdoses can be fatal.
What are Signs of Synthetic Marijuana Addiction?
A drug addiction can occur through prolonged substance use including synthetic drugs. This is known medically as a substance use disorder (SUD). People with a substance addiction will continue to take drugs despite adverse effects to their health and wellbeing. Addiction is a disease which ruins peoples lives.
Addiction occurs because drugs that affect our neurotransmitter chemicals such as dopamine causing "a rush" interfere with the brain's natural reward system. Our brain receives dopamine daily from things such as food, music, or exercise. However, this takes effort. The brain becomes accustomed to the instant rush of endorphins that drug use brings and starts to demand them, causing a physical dependence.
It is important to know that due to the variety of chemical compounds used in synthetic cannabinoids, the signs and symptoms of abuse and addiction will vary greatly. However, some common signs to look out for are:
- Mood swings including violent behavior and aggression
- Switching from extreme hyperactivity to extreme lethargy
- Panic attacks
- Being unable to stop drug use
- Withdrawal symptoms when drug use is stopped for a period of time
- Risky behavior
- Social withdrawal
- Poor performance at school or work
- Poor hygiene and self care
If you notice any of these signs in yourself, this is your wake up call to seek help for synthetic cannabinoid use. Admitting you have a problem to a friend can be the vital first step.
You should not quit synthetic marijuana or any other drug cold turkey, due to potentially harmful withdrawal symptoms. Instead, it is recommended that you undergo a medical detox under professional supervision such as at a rehab center. It is also a good idea to pursue other addiction treatment services such as therapy, for the best chance of long term recovery.
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