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Treatment for Synthetic Weed Addiction

Mojo Synthetic Marijuana Addiction

A new set of designer drugs has experts worried. Referred to collectively as Mojo, these man-made chemicals have taken communities by surprise, sending large numbers of people to hospitals around the country. Most people know these substances by their other street names—Spice, K2, Cloud 9, and Scooby Snax. Whatever you call them, synthetic marijuana has caused a great deal of confusion (and harm) among users.

What Is Synthetic Marijuana Abuse?

Nicknamed “spice,” synthetic marijuana is a term that refers to any group of chemical compounds marketed as marijuana substitutes. The only relation between these chemicals and marijuana is that they bind to the same cell receptors in the brain as THC, the primary psychoactive element of marijuana itself.

Beyond that, the chemical composition of synthetic marijuana means that this “fake weed” bears little resemblance to its namesake. For one, synthetic marijuana binds to the cell receptors more strongly than weed does, creating a more intense effect, and can also affect different brain systems altogether.

Accidentally created during a quest for cancer treatments and subsequently manufactured to mimic the effects of marijuana, variations of synthetic weed nonetheless belong to a far more dangerous family of substances. Along with their nicknames “K2,” “spice” and “mojo,” these chemical compounds may also be referred to as synthetic cannabis or synthetic cannabinoids.

In recent years, synthetic marijuana abuse has risen in popularity due to the drug’s vague legal status, the ease with which it can be obtained, the lack of drug-testing capabilities for synthetic marijuana as opposed to real weed, and the false belief that synthetic marijuana poses fewer risks than other drugs on the market.

How Do People Use Synthetic Marijuana?

Synthetic marijuana comes in a variety of forms. In most cases, users spray synthetic cannabinoid compounds onto natural herbs or plant matter, which can then be smoked. Others prefer to buy synthetic marijuana in liquid form, which they can vaporize and then inhale.

Those who smoke synthetic marijuana may believe they’re inhaling a substance similar to real marijuana. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Although the plant material may be harmless, the mind-altering chemicals they are combined with are not.

Don’t Underestimate the Dangers of Synthetic Marijuana Overdose

Synthetic marijuana should never be confused with natural marijuana. Though individuals may vary greatly in their reaction to synthetic marijuana, symptoms of synthetic marijuana use can be severe and unpredictable, from mental and psychological disturbances to severe physical problems. In some cases, it can even be life-threatening, since overdose effects of synthetic marijuana can include stroke, seizures, heart attack, or suicidality.

Additionally, for those predisposed to mental illness, exposure to synthetic marijuana may be one of the risk factors that increase the likelihood that mental health problems will later develop, as with marijuana itself.

Mental Effects

  • Psychosis
  • Extreme anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Addiction


Behavioral Symptoms

  • Violent or aggressive behavior
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Extreme bouts of energy or extreme exhaustion

Physical Effects

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Vomiting
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Reduced blood supply to the heart
  • Kidney damage
  • Seizures
  • Death

If you or someone you love admits to synthetic marijuana abuse and shows any of these troubling symptoms, you should seek medical treatment immediately. And, aside from these immediate symptoms, signs that synthetic marijuana abuse may be progressing to synthetic marijuana addiction should not be ignored. Because of the intense physical and mind-altering effects of synthetic marijuana, it can also be more physically addictive than weed itself.

Once a synthetic marijuana addiction has developed, a user may experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking synthetic marijuana abruptly. Symptoms of synthetic marijuana withdrawal may include nausea, lethargy, anxiety, mood swings, diarrhea, other flu-like symptoms, and strong synthetic marijuana cravings. Generally, you can expect synthetic marijuana withdrawal symptoms to last up to three days.

A Case of False Advertising

Synthetic marijuana is usually sold at gas stations, head shops, and convenience stores, under the guise of herbal or liquid incense or potpourri. It will frequently be labeled “not for human consumption” but with packaging clearly stating its true purpose.

In spite of the warning, synthetic marijuana has fooled many people. Deceived by catchy names and brightly colored packaging featuring cartoon characters, they erroneously believe these new psychoactive drugs carry fewer risks than marijuana.

It doesn’t help that many suppliers falsely advertise the drugs as a legal and safe alternative to THC. Although it is indeed still a legal alternative in most states, synthetic weed nonetheless poses far more medical risks than marijuana. In fact, medical emergency room visits and calls to poison centers often spike in conjunction with rises in synthetic marijuana overdoses. Take one of these drugs, and you may not go to jail, but you may suffer a psychotic break, renal failure, a lifetime of addiction, or even sudden death.

Unfortunately, those who make money off these drugs have repeatedly frustrated attempts to crack down on the growing epidemic. As of 2014 data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, synthetic marijuana was the second most abused drug by high school seniors, and the drug is still popular today. Now, teens who begin experimenting with psychoactive substances are at risk of losing their lives to the overdose effects of synthetic marijuana instead of simply getting stoned and moving on.

Though a federal ban on synthetic marijuana was attempted in 2012, it failed to control the problem, since as soon as lawmakers prohibit a certain form of synthetic marijuana, manufacturers alter the chemical structure to skirt around the law. However, some forms of synthetic marijuana have been designated by the Drug Enforcement Administration as Schedule 1 drugs.

Treatment For Synthetic Weed Addiction At Reco Intensive

Understanding synthetic marijuana abuse can be difficult, and the question of why a synthetic marijuana addiction develops in some people who engage in synthetic marijuana abuse but not others is one that has a complicated nature. The most commonly cited hypothesis of behavioral health experts is that addiction involves a combination of individual risk factors and environmental factors which collide to create substance use disorders in individuals who are more vulnerable to the negative effects of drug use.

One of these risk factors is having family members who also struggle with substance abuse since the disease also seems to have a strong genetic component. Another is vulnerability to mental illness, as many people with mental disorders resort to legal or illegal drugs to self-medicating their symptoms.

Treating these co-occurring disorders and restoring optimal mental health is thus one of the main goals of synthetic marijuana addiction treatment. At Reco Intensive, we address these co-occurring disorders of mental health with targeted behavioral therapies as well as any appropriate medications.

For instance, cognitive behavioral therapy, one of the treatment options with the strongest evidence in the behavioral health field, works to teach patients to combat the destructive thought patterns associated with the mental feedback loops that can fuel anxiety and depression as well as addiction.

Other behavioral health-backed techniques like dialectical behavioral therapy teach recovering addicts how to develop better interpersonal relationships through improved communication, as well as other recovery skills they will need to create a life free of drug use.

We also offer a variety of holistic programs and behavioral health techniques specialized for specific illnesses. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy and targeted group therapy, for instance, can help patients with posttraumatic stress disorder to process traumatic events in their past.

It’s important that people educate themselves about the dangers of synthetic drugs. False claims and deceptive packaging have lulled too many into a false sense of security. If you or someone you love has experimented with synthetic weed or struggles with dependency issues, it’s critical that they reach out to a trusted drug rehab facility like RECO Intensive. Together, we can achieve addiction recovery and get back a brighter future.

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