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Teen Use of Synthetic Marijuana Spice (K2) On The Rise

  June 02, 2018

By Gregory J. Skibinski, LCPC,CSAT,CMAT, Agape Counseling Ltd.

Shocking stories about the use of synthetic marijuana, also called K2 or Spice, have been sweeping the news and social media. In Central Illinois and Chicago, an alarming number of individuals who have taken the drug are flooding emergency rooms and police departments with a wide range of side effects from the drug, including bleeding, vomiting, seizures, panic attacks, and violent, delusional, or combative behavior. U.S. poison centers have experienced a 229 percent increase in calls related to the use of synthetic marijuana and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has issued an outbreak alert.

Progress is being made on the understanding of the damaging and harmful effects of synthetic marijuana products, best known as “Spice” or “K2.” This fake marijuana is an herbal mixture sprayed with chemicals intended to create a “high” similar to smoking marijuana, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. These products are marketed as potpourri or incense, and labeled “not for human consumption.” Many teens are choosing to consume these products at an alarming rate. According to Science Daily, published October 2, 2013, Jeffery Moran and colleagues note that synthetic marijuana is a significant public health concern. One in nine high school seniors admit to recent use. It was noted that Spice is the second most popular drug after marijuana for many American teens and young adults. It is more popular among boys than girls. Why are teens turning to this? It is for the “high” they get from either smoking or ingesting with food or drink. The popularity has increased due to the effects it provides and that it is not easily detected in standard drug tests due to the chemicals that are used. Today, the only way to identify the compounds is through a blood test which must be performed before the effects of the drug wear off.

What effects does Spice have when consumed? Many users report effects similar to those experienced with marijuana, such as altered perception, relaxation, and elevated mood. However, some users also report psychotic effects like extreme anxiety, paranoia, and hallucinations. There have been no scientific studies on the effects of the human brain under the influence of Spice, but emergency departments across the United States are seeing a rise in K2-related visits. Spice abusers taken to poison control centers report symptoms that include rapid heart rate, vomiting, agitation, confusion, and hallucinations. Spice can also raise blood pressure and cause reduced blood supply to the heart. In a few cases, it has been associated with heart attacks. Addictive symptoms and withdrawal effects have also been noted in regular users. Since research is needed in this area, we still do not know the short and long term impact of Spice on the health of humans or how toxic it is.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) have found that five of the most common active chemicals in Spice are Schedule I controlled substances; meaning they are illegal to buy, sell, or possess because of their high potential for abuse and lack of accepted medical benefit.

However, the manufacturers are quick to evade legal restrictions by substituting different chemicals in their mixtures. No two packages of K2, or Spice, are really the same. In fact, each individual batch may contain different chemicals, causing the effects to be different.

Concerned parents can approach the issue of Spice similarly to how they would any other drug: educating themselves and having frank discussions with teens are the keys to prevention and the message that our teens need to hear is that by not knowing what they are putting into their body and what the effects could be is like playing Russian roulette — but with a substance.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, please contact Agape Counseling at 309-663-2229. They are a group of Christian counselors, social workers, psychologists, and support staff committed to a therapeutic process which ministers to the whole person. Their Bloomington office is located at 211 N. Veterans Parkway (next to Krispy Kreme). They also have offices in Peoria and Morton. Visit them online at
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June 02, 2018
Categories:  Disease/Illness


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