K2 & Spice Abuse Signs, Symptoms & Effects

Synthetic marijuana, which is also frequently referred to as K2, spice, or potpourri, is a very dangerous drug that can bring about feelings of detachment from one’s self and one’s environment, terrifying episodes of psychosis, and a whole host of other euphoric effects that are often unexpected by those who abuse this drug.

Understanding Synthetic Marijuana Abuse

Learn about synthetic marijuana and substance abuse

As a substance created in a laboratory and not grown in nature like traditional marijuana, a person can never be sure of the precise ingredients in a dose of synthetic marijuana, which adds a whole other level of danger to abusing this drug.

If you’ve been abusing synthetic marijuana and are now realizing that you can’t stop on your own, there are resources available to you. However, to partake in effective treatment and have it work for you, you must be committed to the process of recovering. Especially if you’ve experienced adverse effects after abusing this substance, you still must be prepared to leave the abuse of synthetic marijuana in the past. But, if you’re ready to delve into the process of recovering and healing from your synthetic marijuana addiction, there are numerous addiction clinics that can give you the resources and support you need to become sober.


Synthetic marijuana abuse statistics

Despite being marketed as a safer alternative to what most people know marijuana to be, synthetic marijuana has proven to be one of the most dangerous drugs on the market today. The Drug Abuse Warning Network, or DAWN, reported that almost 12,000 people have needed emergency medical care after using this dangerous drug, and that almost 5,100 cases reported to poison control centers were due to the abuse of this drug. Several people have lost their lives after misusing this substance, and countless others are now forced to live with permanent mental and physical health concerns because of the abuse of synthetic marijuana. Considering the peril involved in using this manmade substance, additional work still needs to be done to make communities more aware of what synthetic marijuana can do.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for synthetic marijuana abuse

If you’ve asked yourself “how have I gotten to the point where I can’t stop using synthetic marijuana?,” you’re probably wondering what led you to the abuse of this drug. Researchers have tried to answer this question and have discovered the following possible causes and risk factors for synthetic marijuana abuse:

Genetic: Substance abuse is a problem that can affect members of a family. Since researchers have discovered certain genes that can make people more susceptible to abusing drugs like synthetic marijuana, this could explain why you and perhaps some of your loved ones are battling or have battled substance abuse and addiction.

Environmental: Many people first come to abuse synthetic marijuana because they surround themselves with others who are abusing this substance. This is an example of an environmental influence that can make drug abuse more likely for some. Additional environmental factors that can increase the odds of abusing synthetic marijuana include past history of drug use, having poor coping skills, exposure to violence and/or trauma, inadequate familial or social support, and easy access to synthetic marijuana.

Risk Factors:

  • Being male
  • Being of younger age
  • Family history of mental illness
  • Family history of substance abuse and addiction
  • Having a traumatic past
  • Lack of parental involvement during childhood
  • Living in poverty
  • Poor stress-management skills
  • Prior substance abuse

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of synthetic marijuana abuse

Since you can never be sure of the ingredients in a dose of synthetic marijuana, it can be somewhat difficult to identify the telltale signs of synthetic marijuana abuse. However, the following behavioral, physical, cognitive, and psychosocial symptoms are those that suggest you may have a problem with the abuse of this deadly substance:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Deception regarding one’s actions and whereabouts
  • Declining performance at work or in school
  • Frequent unexplained absences from work
  • Lack of attention to grooming and personal hygiene
  • Stealing in order to get more synthetic marijuana
  • Using synthetic marijuana when it’s dangerous to do so

Physical symptoms:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Higher than normal blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Muscle spasms
  • Nausea
  • Numbness in extremities
  • Watery eyes

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Confusion
  • Depersonalization
  • Disorientation
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings


Effects of synthetic marijuana abuse

It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to avoid any kind of consequences when you abuse synthetic marijuana. By delaying treatment or never seeking services, the following effects can occur and impact your life negatively:

  • Attempts at suicide
  • Brain damage
  • Chronic unemployment
  • Cognitive impairments
  • Death
  • Diminished performance at work
  • Dysfunctional interpersonal relationships
  • Family discord
  • Financial problems
  • Job loss
  • Legal problems, including arrest and incarceration
  • Stroke
  • Suicidal ideation

Co-Occurring Disorders

Synthetic marijuana abuse and co-occurring disorders

It’s fairly common for people to struggle with certain co-occurring disorders at the same time as a synthetic marijuana addiction. If you’re one of these individuals, it’s important for you to know that you can receive well-rounded treatment that addresses both your addiction and the following co-occurring conditions as well:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depressive disorders
  • Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)
  • Other substance use disorders
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Withdrawal & Overdose

Effects of synthetic marijuana withdrawal and overdose

Effects of synthetic marijuana withdrawal: Depending on the ingredients in the synthetic marijuana that you’re consuming, you’re likely to experience withdrawal in the event you stop using this dangerous drug. Therefore, if you begin experiencing any of the following effects, it’s quite likely that you’ve formed some level of dependence on synthetic marijuana:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Cold flashes
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Hot flashes
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Strong cravings for synthetic marijuana
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Vomiting

Effects of synthetic marijuana overdose: Synthetic marijuana can in fact cause an overdose if it is taken in an excessive amount. Therefore if you notice any of the following warning signs in yourself or someone nearby, it’s wise to call 9-1-1 as soon as possible so that a fatal outcome can be prevented:

  • Cardiac arrest
  • Coma
  • Confusion
  • Delusions
  • Disorientation
  • Hallucinations
  • Respiratory distress
  • Seizure

It was hard for me to open up in group therapy, but after I did, I was able to share more and more each time. Group was crucial to my recovery process.

– Anonymous Patient
Marks of Quality Care
  • Louisiana Hospital Association (LHA)
  • The Jason Foundation
  • The Joint Commission (JCAHO) Gold Seal of Approval