K2/Spice is a synthetic cannabinoid that is included in a new drug class known as new psychoactive substances (NPS) – synthetic drugs that mimic the effects of different types of illicit drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and others.

K2 and Spice are brand names of a type of unregulated synthetic cannabinoid that is intended to mimic the effects of marijuana (Cannabis sativa). Other common names of Spice include “Skunk,” “Paradise,” “Moon Rocks” and “Yucatan Fire.”

Synthetic cannabinoids such as K2 have grown in popularity in recent years in the U.S. Spice/K2 and other synthetic drugs have become widely available and easily purchased from tobacco or head shops, on the internet and in gas stations.

Types Of Synthetic Cannabinoids

Over 75 synthetic cannabinoids have been identified, many of which have been sold as “incense” or “potpourri” to avoid being considered controlled substances, reported the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

K2/Spice is a synthetic cannabinoid that is sprayed onto a mixture of dried plant material and herbs (herbal incense). The herbal incense is made into tea, smoked or mixed with marijuana. The liquid form of Spice/K2 (liquid essence) is vaporized and inhaled by users using an electronic device such as an e-cigarette.

Spice/K2 in the brain

Synthetic cannabinoids such as K2/Spice produce their effects by acting on the same endogenous (in the body) cannabinoid receptors as the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, delta-9-tetrahydrocannibinol (THC).

Similar to natural chemicals (cannabinoids) in the body, THC and synthetic cannabinoids slow down the communication between cells in the endocannabinoid system by activating cannabinoid type 1 (CB1) receptors.

While THC is a partial agonist of CB1 receptors, synthetic cannabinoids are considered to be full agonists. Full agonists act on CB1 receptors, which means that Spice/K2 is much more potent than regular marijuana.

Are Synthetic Cannabinoids Safe?

K2/Spice and other types of synthetic cannabinoids are sometimes referred to as “fake weed” or “fake marijuana.” Unlike “real” marijuana, K2/Spice is undetected by standard drug tests, one major reason for the increased prevalence of abuse in the United States.

Many young people have also started to use K2/Spice as a legal and “safe” alternative to illegal drugs, although the effects of synthetic cannabinoids can be more dangerous than those of regular marijuana. Some symptoms of K2 use can be unpredictable and even fatal.

Effects Of K2 Abuse

K2/Spice produces a wider range of physical and psychological effects compared to regular marijuana; some of these effects are more harmful than regular marijuana, and, in some cases, can even be life-threatening.

Some effects of K2/Spice are similar to those produced by marijuana, including relaxation, an enhanced mood, and changes in a person’s perception or awareness of his or her surroundings, reported the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Side Effects Of K2 Spice include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion
  • Agitation
  • Disorganized thoughts
  • Paranoid delusions
  • Violent behavior
  • Paleness
  • Numbness
  • Tingling

Health Consequences

Spice/K2 can also produce a range of physical and psychological health effects such as:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Raised blood pressure
  • Reduced blood supply to heart due to raised blood pressure
  • Kidney damage
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Unconsciousness
  • Vomiting
  • Severe anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Paranoia
  • Panic attacks
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K2 Addiction And Withdrawal Symptoms

Similar to regular marijuana, synthetic cannabinoids, including K2/Spice, can cause dependence, addiction and withdrawal symptoms in regular users. Spice/K2 addiction, similar to addiction to marijuana and other synthetic cannabinoids, is referred to as a cannabis use disorder.

Researchers have found that chronic Spice/K2 abuse can lead to withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety and tachycardia (rapid heart rate). Withdrawal symptoms of K2/Spice may include:

  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Low mood
  • Irritability
  • Cravings
  • Suicidal thoughts or feelings
  • Sweating
  • Chest pains
  • Panic attacks
  • Memory problems
  • Concentration problems
  • Fast heart beat
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Insomnia
  • Constipation

Why Choose Sovereign Health of Arizona?

Spice/K2 addiction treatment is offered at Sovereign Health of Arizona’s Chandler facility for women who have a cannabis use disorder due to Spice or K2. We offer a combination of individual, group and family therapy along with our comprehensive evidence-based and complementary treatment options, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), neurofeedback, equine therapy and more.

K2 addiction treatment is individualized to meet women’s specific needs, based on thorough medical, biopsychosocial and psychiatric assessments designed to diagnose and treat all conditions that co-occur with Spice or K2 abuse.

For more information about the comprehensive treatment programs offered to women for cannabis use disorders, mental illnesses and co-occurring disorders, please contact our 24/7 helpline to speak to a member of our admissions team.

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