Synthetic Marijuana Addiction Symptoms & Warning Signs

Understanding Synthetic Marijuana Addiction

Learn more about synthetic marijuana abuse & addiction

Synthetic marijuana, also known as K2 or Spice, is a substance that is continually gaining popularity even though a number of negative consequences have been connected to the use of this substance. Synthetic marijuana contains a synthetic compound that was initially established to mimic the effects of traditional marijuana. However, the many dangerous chemicals that are used to make these compounds have gone far past producing a drug that is similar to marijuana, as the use of this substance holds a whole host of dangers. In addition, these compounds are manmade, which means that they can change in chemical consistency. Therefore, one batch of synthetic marijuana might produce a euphoric high, while another batch might trigger a psychotic episode. Sadly, just one use of this substance has caused death.

Similar to the abuse of any substance, as soon as individuals have started to continually abuse synthetic marijuana, it can be more challenging for them to stop without the help of professionals. Even when negative consequences develop in response to one’s synthetic marijuana abuse, it can be incredibly difficult for individuals to stop their abuse. Thankfully, there are treatment options that can help individuals end their abuse of synthetic marijuana once and for all.


Statistics on synthetic marijuana abuse & addiction

The exact prevalence of synthetic marijuana abuse is unknown, however, there are many statistics that show how many dangers the abuse of this substance can cause. From January to June of 2014, poison control centers throughout the country reported roughly 800 cases of synthetic marijuana abuse. Within a two-week period of time in March 2014, Louisiana emergency departments reported that over 100 people had been treated for synthetic marijuana overdoses. Then, in May of that same year, nearly 120 people in Texas suffered from synthetic marijuana overdoses in just a five-day span of time.

Causes & Risks

Causes and risk factors for synthetic marijuana abuse & addiction

The causes and risk factors that can impact one’s chances of abusing synthetic marijuana can include:

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 developing this disorder than those who do not have the same background.

Environmental: The environment in which one lives can play a significant role in whether or not he or she will develop synthetic marijuana use disorder. Factors include being exposed to the abuse of synthetic marijuana or other drugs, being raised in an unstable home, or going through trauma can all impact an individual’s chances of starting to abuse synthetic marijuana.

Risk Factors:

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

Signs & Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of synthetic marijuana abuse & addiction

Because there are a number of different chemicals found in this substance, the signs and symptoms that one displays can vary. Some of the common signs and symptoms, however, can include:

Behavioral symptoms:

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

Physical symptoms:

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

Cognitive symptoms:

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

Psychosocial symptoms:

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


Effects of synthetic marijuana abuse & addiction

The longer that an individual keeps abusing synthetic marijuana, the more likely that he or she is to suffer from a number of dangerous effects. Even one single-time use of this substance has been known to trigger the onset of devastating outcomes. Some of the long-term and short-term effects of the abuse of this substance can include:

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

Withdrawal & Overdose

Effects of synthetic marijuana withdrawal and overdose

Effects of synthetic marijuana withdrawal: If synthetic marijuana is continually abused, individuals are put at risk for going through withdrawal when they attempt to stop their use suddenly. The symptoms of withdrawal will vary, however some of the most common effects include:

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

Effects of synthetic marijuana overdose: When a substance is consumed at a rate that the body is unable to metabolize it, an overdose can occur, which can be lethal. Signs that an individual has overdosed on synthetic marijuana include:

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