What is synthetic marijuana?
Synthetic marijuana is a chemical compound that is added to dried plants such as herbs, allowing it to be smoked or vaporized. Many variations exist today and they are sold around the United States as alternatives to regular plant-based cannabis.
Synthetic cannabinoids were developed as early as the year 2000 and have continued to show up as herbal smoking blends that are often marketed as legal marijuana replacements.
Synthetic marijuana and synthetic weed are common terms for this group of drugs, but the labels are actually misleading and inaccurate. The names refer to a type of substances which is more accurately referred to as cannabinoid receptor agonists, synthetic cannabinoids, or synthetic cannabis compounds.
The term marijuana typically refers to the dried flowering buds from the marijuana plant, which derives most of the psychoactive effects from THC. Synthetic cannabinoids are named as such because they act on the cannabinoid receptors inside the brain, although in different ways than regular marijuana.
Often, people will use the label synthetic marijuana, including the media and law enforcement, for simplicity. They might also use brand names for different synthetic products sold such as K2, mojo, spice, blaze, and many others. New brands are created regularly, so the products can be difficult to identify as synthetic weed at first glance.
Who uses it and why?
Synthetic THC is used for many reasons. Legality is one of the main factors contributing to its use. Regular cannabis is still illegal in many parts of the United States, so synthetic cannabinoids have taken over the market in many areas. It can typically be purchased legally, so it is easier to obtain.
Another reason that some people choose synthetic weed is because standard drug testing does not trigger positive drug test results. These tests primarily check for THC, which is found in plant-based marijuana. This means that active duty military personnel, those on parole, professional athletes, and even people who are currently in treatment centers for substance abuse might turn to a synthetic product as an alternative.
Some people who are low-income or homeless have also turned to synthetic products as an affordable replacement to other drugs. Teens and young adults may also find fake weed to be more affordable and easier to get than other drugs.
Some people who smoke K2 or spice may even think that it is the same as or similar to regular cannabis. Many people are simply unaware that the effects they get from a synthetic cannabinoid are going to be very different from regular marijuana.
What are the differences between marijuana and synthetic marijuana?
Marijuana is a natural plant that grows in the wild. It can also be cultivated for its recreational and medicinal uses. Natural plant-based cannabis is legal in some states for medical or recreational use by adults. When used responsibly, in moderation, or under the care of a doctor, natural cannabis may have relatively few adverse effects. That isn’t to say that it is without risks; similarly to alcohol, it can cause health issues, impaired driving, addiction, and other problems. However, most issues related to natural cannabis are mild when compared to the synthetic versions.
Synthetic cannabinoids are considered a relative to the substances found in natural marijuana, but they are not found in or derived from the plant. They also have pharmacological properties that are not well understood. Although they act on the same chemical receptors in the brain, the effects and side effects vary widely between natural and synthetic marijuana.
Many of these synthetic substances have a different chemical structure compared to THC, which is the main psychoactive ingredient found in regular cannabis. As such, they produce different effects. This is one of the possible reasons for the higher rate of extreme side effects and adverse reactions to synthetic weed.
The packaging and the branding used for products like Spice and K2 suggest that they have side effects similar to that of marijuana, but the materials are very different and should be treated as such.
Is synthetic marijuana addictive?
Synthetic weed is a psychoactive substance that can be addictive. Just as with other drugs such as alcohol and opioids, some people may be able to use it without forming an addiction. However, many people have become addicted.
People who are addicted may show signs that include experiencing cravings for the drug, not being able to quit using it, obsessing over their drug supply, having an inability to sleep, and losing interest in other activities.
If someone you love may be addicted, you might notice changes in their appearance such as weight loss, sudden financial issues leading to borrowing or stealing money, changes in social circles, interpersonal issues, changes in eating, and other behavioral or mental changes.
Very few users start down the path of a synthetic alternative thinking that they will become addicted. Even those who recognize the signs of addiction in themselves might think that individual strength and perseverance are enough to prevent any dangerous side effects or overcome the addiction. Unfortunately, trying to overcome addiction alone can often end in frustration as anxiety, headaches, irritation, depression, and other withdrawal symptoms unfold.
Sadly, even when people are successfully able to detox from a drug by themselves, they often relapse within a few weeks or months because the underlying issues that led to addiction have not been addressed. Learning new coping skills, gaining a support system, and developing through the many available treatments for addiction that are available today are necessary to truly recover from drug addiction.
Why is synthetic cannabis so dangerous?
This drug has many dangerous side effects and can cause potential health issues. One of the main problems with synthetic weed is that the products are usually completely unregulated and may contain any number of dangerous substances. This can cause extreme side effects and adverse reactions.
The adverse reactions to synthetic cannabinoids are much more severe than regular cannabis. Since the year 2015, the number of emergency room visits relating to reactions from synthetic weed has increased significantly. Because synthetic cannabinoids are a class of substances that can differ very widely from each other, the effects of each specific version are varied and may only be seen with certain types of the drug. They might include:
Withdrawal symptoms can be mild to severe, depending on the length of use and amount used. They include:
- Inability to sleep
- Chest pain
How can rehab help with synthetic marijuana addiction?
Drug rehab for synthetic weed can help you or your loved one recover fully in the most comfortable and effective way possible. Depending on the length of time and the amount of fake cannabis that has been consumed, medical detox may be recommended as the first part of treatment. Withdrawal symptoms can be painful or even cause health risks, so having medical professionals supervise the process reduces the potential for severe withdrawal issues. They may also be able to make you more comfortable during the process. This type of professional support can often mean the difference between a successful rehabilitation treatment and an unsuccessful treatment.
Many people believe that detox and recovery mean the same thing. Actually, detox is usually just the first step of true, lasting change. Addiction is a complicated mental health issue that can be caused by many underlying factors such as personal history, current circumstances, and biology. Detox allows a person to begin to heal their body, but the mind and spirit must also be healed or the risk of relapse remains high.
Through evidence-based methods such as individual therapy, group counseling, family therapy, meditation, outdoor therapy, and other treatments, you or your loved one will be able to explore what may have led to addiction in the first place. Once those factors are identified, you can work to develop new coping mechanisms, support structures, and good habits that will help you stay clean and sober.
One of the most important parts of going to a treatment center is receiving individual customized treatments instead being placed into a standard program that is assumed to help everyone. When your treatment is customized for your specific needs, you can work specifically on the areas that will be most beneficial to you during your recovery. For instance, you may not need to improve your anger management or communication skills. However, learning new coping skills or exploring ways that you can spend your free time now that you aren’t using drugs may be exceptionally helpful to you. This also allows you to customize your own treatment to some degree, which can make treatment more engaging and lead to even more successful outcomes.
Is there specialized help available for synthetic marijuana addiction?
Yes! At Pinnacle Peak Recovery in Scottsdale, Arizona, we offer specialized synthetic marijuana addiction treatment. We focus on evidence-based practices that have been proven to work with many clients in the past, and our staff is trained to treat this specific type of substance use.
Addictions are individualized experiences and at Pinnacle Peak Recovery, treatment is too. It is important to remember that there is no single path to recovery and your journey should be customized to fit your experiences, background, and goals. We believe that personalized treatment is a necessity for true recovery, which is why each and every client has a therapy program designed to meet their individual needs.
We know that after you leave a treatment center, your troubles aren't going to end. For that reason we focus on giving sustainable life skills that provide the abilities that are necessary to battle future temptation and manage stress in healthier ways.
We provide cutting-edge services and therapies so that each client gets the most effective treatment possible. Recovery is so much more than a simple detox or trading out one addiction for another. That is why we provide access to cognitive behavioral therapy, trauma therapy, group therapy, mindfulness training, outdoor therapeutic adventures, meditation, yoga, and much more.
Contact Pinnacle Peak Recovery today to learn more about our substance abuse treatment programs. The chemical effects of synthetic weed on the brain make it very difficult to recover alone, and that is why we are here to provide a holistic approach to help you in a safe, supportive, and confidential environment.
Start your recovery journey today
Beginning treatment for addiction is scary. With concerns about what rehab is like, how you will afford it, and how your family will get along while you are away, there are so many excuses to delay getting help yet again. We are here to help with all of these worries and more, so there is no reason to continue putting off the treatment you need.
Addiction has already taken enough of your time, health, relationships, and life. Don’t waste another day of your life continuing to struggle with substance use alone.
We are here to help you take that crucial first step. Call us at 866-954-0524.