Synthetic marijuana refers to a substance that when used changes the way the brain processes information, not unlike the effects of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) on the brain. Synthetic marijuana contains marijuana, but it also contains other plant material, similar to potpourri and chemicals, which some researchers makes synthetic marijuana react unpredictably and randomly.
Synthetic marijuana reaches its popularity from 2000 to 2010, however by 2012; the U.S. federal government outlawed the sale of the substance, which was followed by nearly every state. The downside is that manufacturers have discovered a way to get around the law by making subtle changes to the drug in which there is no regulation and by placing a label on the package marked "not for human consumption."
Synthetic marijuana effects the central nervous system and brain much like marijuana, as it attaches to the cannabinoid receptors but the difference is that the synthetic marijuana secures to the receptors much more tightly and the effects are irregular from traditional marijuana use. Most health care professionals report that because of the inability to be able to predict the outcome of synthetic marijuana use, it is difficult to determine the long term effects with habitual use.
However, individuals admitted to emergency rooms for treatment complained of vomiting, irregular heartbeat, impaired mobility, slurred speech, impaired judgment, confusion, irrational and aggressive behavior, delusional and coma or a catatonic state. Use of synthetic marijuana can be fatal.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, synthetic marijuana is known as:spice, K2, moon rocks, fake weed, and skunk and yucatan fire. In 2012, the Drug Enforcement Administration banned the chemicals that had been used to manufacture synthetic marijuana, however since the ban; the drug manufactures have found a way around the ban by substituting different chemicals.
Synthetic marijuana is most popular among high school students, especially males. Reports suggest that the reason the drug has become so popular is the misunderstanding that the name "Spice" indicates that it is a natural substance and the other reason is that most drug tests cannot detect the chemical ingredients.
Marijuana can be smoked or prepared in drink form such as herbal tea. Synthetic marijuana users reported a euphoric sensation, as well as a feeling of deep relaxation, while others reported paranoia, anxiety and hallucinations. Doctors have not been able to determine the long term effects of synthetic marijuana; however they believe that any addiction would be more psychological than physical. The National Institute on Drug Abuse stated that because of the nature of the chemicals and their uncertainty, most physicians believe that it is not safe to give medications to individuals who are under the influence of synthetic marijuana and try to keep the individual calm while the drugs are naturally released from the body.
Effective programs that can help someone overcome synthetic marijuana addiction may include a cognitive behavioral education program that helps the individual develop different skills that help them cope with life and that teaches them to make more productive decisions and to develop positive and purposeful behaviors and habits.