K2 Withdrawal Treatment, Spice Addiction Treatment
What does No More Mr. Nice Guy, Blonde, K2, Spice, Blaze, Red Dawn X, Green Giant, AK-47, Geeked Up, Citron, Summit, Caution, Keisha Kole, and Ninja have in common aside from the fact that they all seem so unrelated to one another? These are the brand names of a highly addicting substance that has been synthetically produced by man himself to be up to 800 times more potent than the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) of marijuana. This synthetic marijuana is just one of the new class of addicting substances – New Psychoactive Substances – that many healthcare and addiction professionals, including legislators, in the country are not yet particularly familiar with. Their labeling of fake weed or legal marijuana has been described as a means to undercut the loopholes in the regulation of psychoactive substances.
K2 or Spice first appeared in the recreational drug scene in the early turn of the new millennium. Towards the end of the first decade of the 21st century, these synthetic cannabinoids have already seen unprecedented use. The dearth of information regarding its impact on the general society is largely attributed to its novelty compared to other psychoactive substances that have been in use for many decades already. Nonetheless, the Maryland Poison Center in April and May of 2015 issued an urgent notice regarding the dangers of these marijuana-like new psychoactive substances. At exactly the same time and in only a span of 2 weeks, around 160 New Yorkers were hospitalized attributed to synthetic marijuana overdose.
The major issue in synthetic marijuana is in its synthetic ingredients especially HU-210, JWH-073, and JWH-018. HU-210 and JWH-018 have been shown to be several hundred times more potent than natural marijuana. If marijuana can produce cognitive deficits as well as psychomotor problems and acute psychosis, experts can only imagine the detrimental effects of synthetic marijuana on the individual.
These cannabinoids bind to the natural, endogenous cannabinoid receptors in the brain affecting mood, pain sensation, appetite, memory, and learning. Normally, when endogenous cannabinoids are stimulated, they help regulate the release of both glutamate and gamma aminobutyric acid. Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter while GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. These dual regulatory effects are significantly hampered with the introduction of synthetic marijuana, leading to significantly reduced motor activity, dulling of pain sensation, reduction is body temperature, and lifeless immobility. These four major problems define the effects of cannabinoid drugs in the body. And with synthetic ingredients that are several hundred times more powerful than the ordinary THC found in marijuana, it is not surprising to see major problems occurring.
Because synthetic marijuana is several hundred times stronger than marijuana, the effects will be similar, yet heightened many times over. The euphoria will often be present with extreme agitation, elevated mood, and extreme anxiety. Tremors and seizures can occur because of the sudden influx of excitatory nerve impulse transmission. There is confusion, paranoia, delusions, and auditory and visual hallucinations. The ability to distinguish reality from fiction is grossly impaired and as such can lead to more psychotic symptoms. Once the initial high subsides, the individual can go into severe depression leading to suicidal ideation. Physiologically, there is an increase in the heart rate as well as unusual elevation of the blood pressure. There are also changes in breathing pattern, all of which can lead to tissue oxygenation problems.
Like the management of marijuana addiction, treatment of K2, Spice, or synthetic marijuana addiction requires a more comprehensive approach that starts with detoxification, supportive treatment, and continuing care well after completion of the treatment program. Of particular importance is that removal of the synthetic marijuana from the system of the individual. It is imperative that medically-assisted detoxification protocols be instituted especially in the management of the more serious physical dependence issues. An integral part of the detoxification program is psychosocial and nutritional support as majority of these individuals will often present with a variety of co-occurring mental health problems, such as extreme anxiety and schizophrenia-like manifestations. This is where Sprout Health Group’s dual diagnosis expertise can come into play.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy remains a fundamental treatment approach in the management of synthetic marijuana addictions. This is to help the individual realize that the pleasant feelings derived from taking the substance are very artificial. This is also where psychoeducational groups can play a major role in providing accurate information about this type of addiction and how different it is from other substance use disorders. Family therapy is also a very important aspect of the treatment as the family is needed to provide the necessary support during the individual’s treatment and continued recovery in their respective homes.