Emergency departments across the country have seen a steady rise in synthetic drug related cases, commonly involving what are known as synthetic cannabis. While the name may cause people to think of marijuana, the effects of synthetic cannabinoids are both unpredictable and dangerous. The side effects associated with the use of such compounds, sold under the name “K2” or “Spice” are frightening to say the least. That being said, it begs the question, why would people use substances with side effects which cannot be anticipated?
Synthetic marijuana, unlike traditional cannabis in most states, teeters on the line of legality. Meaning, it is easy to buy and use synthetic drugs because chemists are constantly altering the formula to stay ahead of government bans. What’s more, the chemicals found in synthetic cannabis can’t be detected by most standard drug tests, which is appealing to young people and those working in professions that drug test randomly. When you add that together with how inexpensive synthetic drugs are, it is easy to see why some people would be drawn to those forms of drugs.
SCB vs THC
Synthetic marijuana, and its effect on the human body, is far from understood by scientists. Ironically, researchers developed synthetic cannabinoids (SCB) in order to better understand the effect of the main psychoactive ingredient (THC) found in traditional cannabis on receptors in the brain, Cell Press reports. Researchers from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) point out that while SCBs activate the same brain receptors as THC, SCBs are not only different from marijuana—they are chemically distinct from one another. In a Review published in Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, the researchers write of synthetic marijuana:
“SCBs are falsely marketed as safe marijuana substitutes. Instead, SCBs are a highly structural diverse group of compounds, easily synthesized, which produce very dangerous adverse effects occurring by, as of yet, unknown mechanisms. Therefore, available evidence indicates that K2/Spice products are clearly not safe marijuana alternatives.”
Paul L. Prather, a cellular and molecular pharmacologist at UAMS and his colleagues point out that SCBs have been associated with twenty deaths, according to the report. Clinical studies have identified both acute and long-term adverse effects of SCB, such as:
- Kidney Injury
Synthetic Marijuana Addiction
Those who use synthetic cannabis regularly are at risk of developing a tolerance and dependence on the drugs. Those who attempt to quit can experience withdrawal. If you or a loved one has been abusing synthetic drugs, please contact Synergy Group Services. Synthetic cannabinoids are extremely dangerous, given the fact that you have no idea what kind of side effects to expect. The next time could land you in the hospital, or worse.
Marijuana is a popular drug in the United States, indicative by the fact that it is the most used illicit narcotic in this country. As of late, discussions about drugs have been geared towards prescription opioids and heroin—in light of the ongoing epidemic. Yet, it is worth keeping in mind that while marijuana is a far cry from opioids, it is still a drug that can have negative effects on one’s health and lead to addiction. The demographic of greatest concern is young people, especially adolescents.
In the science community, it is widely held that teenage cannabis use can have a serious impact on the brain. This is due to the fact that the brain of adolescents is still developing. While preventing teens from using cannabis is a top concern, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that in the last year, marijuana was used by:
- Roughly 6.5 Percent of Eighth-Graders
- 14.8 percent of 10th-Graders
- 21.3 Percent of 12th-Graders
NIDA’s findings indicate that cannabis prevention measures need to start much earlier. But when? A team of researchers from the University of Florida (UF) took it upon themselves to pinpoint when teens are most like to begin using cannabis, MNT reports. Their findings could increase the success of preventative measures in the future. The research was published in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse.
The findings of the study, led by Dr. Xinguang Chen, a professor in the Department of Epidemiology at UF, showed that adolescents are at risk of initiating cannabis use by the age of 11, according to the article. The risk of using cannabis peaks at the age of 16. The researchers determined those ages by looking at data from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The survey involved 26,659 adolescents and young adults—ages 12 to 21.
“Our findings demonstrate the need to start drug education much earlier, in the fourth or fifth grade,” said Dr. Xinguang Chen. “This gives us an opportunity to make a preemptive strike before they actually start using marijuana.”
At Synergy Group Services, we specialize in treating addiction, we can help you or a loved one break the cycle of addiction and give you the tools necessary for sustaining long term abstinence from all mind altering substances.
At the end of November, Southern California saw a surge in medical emergencies linked to a bad batch of synthetic marijuana. Commonly sold under the brand name of Spice or K2, synthetic cannabinoid users often experience severe side effects that, without treatment, can be fatal.
On the other side of the country, the State of Florida has seen a dramatic rise in synthetic drug related incidents in recent years. The chemicals used to make these types of drugs are manufactured in China, and then sprayed on herbs or bath salts. When ingested, the chemicals produce a number of effects, such as hallucinations, increased energy, and euphoria.
Use of synthetic drugs has been associated with:
- Suicidal Tendencies and Attempts
- Homicidal Tendencies
- Chest Pain
- Heart attack
Until recently, synthetic drug manufacturers in China operated with little impunity. Producers of the chemicals have no oversight and do not conduct human testing before they sell their chemicals. After serious scrutiny from the United States and others, China banned more than 100 chemicals used to make synthetic drugs, The Miami Herald reports. Chemicals used to make alpha-PVP, better known as flakka, which has been abused all over South Florida as of late. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration reports that it is now illegal in China to distribute flakka, fentanyl, and other chemicals at home and overseas.
“The ban of the sale of the listed synthetic drugs will hopefully have a positive impact with regard to reducing the designer drug threat in the United States,” said Diane Boland, director of toxicology at the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s Office. “Only time will tell.”
On top the serious side effects produced by synthetic drugs, the substances can become habit forming, leading to addiction. If you or a loved one struggles with synthetic drug use, please contact Synergy Group Services. Our approach is rooted in a holistic mind, body and spirit approach, which blends traditional counseling and alternative medicine to achieve a synergistic outcome.
The side effects of synthetic drugs, such as Spice (synthetic marijuana) and ‘bath salts’ (MDPV), are often unpredictable and can be extremely dangerous. The chemical formulas of these types of drugs are constantly being altered in an effort to stay one step ahead of the authorities, which means there are very few (if any) human trials before the compounds hit the market.
One of the latest synthetic drugs that has been making the news headlines is known as Flakka (alpha-PVP). The new drug has had widespread use in the southern states, especially Florida. Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have found that alpha-PVP seems to be as equivalently potent as a stimulant, and therefore as addictive as the drugs cousin, MDPV, Medical Xpress reports.
“There have been assertions that flakka is somehow worse than MDPV, but this study shows that the two are very similar,” said Michael A. Taffe, an associate professor at TSRI.
However, study co-author Tobin J. Dickerson adds, “That doesn’t mean that flakka use is ‘safe’—our data show that flakka is as potent as MDPV, making it a very good stimulant, arguably with worse addiction liability than methamphetamine.”
Flakka, which comes in a crystalline rock form, can be consumed in a number of ways – it can be:
- Vaped in an E-Cigarette
While the side effects of Flakka use vary, users often show signs of:
- Extreme Violence
- Paranoid Psychoses
- Compulsive Nudity
- Zombie-like Behavior
- Superhuman Strength
Research is still being conducted on the long term effects of the drug, as well as the health problems that may arise from continued use. It is already known that Flakka can affect the kidneys, leading to kidney failure or death.
The findings were published in the journal Psychopharmacology.