Spice is a chemically produced drug made to look like marijuana. Synthetic cannabinoids are sprayed on plant material to mimic marijuana. However, spice drugs actually have a different chemical makeup that acts differently in the brain. Specifically, they activate the CB1 receptor in the brain to a greater degree than does the THC in marijuana. Therefore, they have mind-altering effects that are typically much stronger than those produced by marijuana. Thus, spice abuse can have intense and dangerous symptoms.
What Is Spice Abuse?
Social anxiety disorder is an intense feeling of anxiety when forced to socialize with other people. The person experiences an intense anxiety that leads to deep feelings of embarrassment. Fearful of being judged by others, a person who has this social phobia often withdraws into a shell of isolation and avoidance behaviors. Social anxiety can be paralyzing for teenagers in school and at family gatherings.
Spice can be smoked, used to make tea, or vaporized in liquid form in e-cigarettes. Symptoms of spice abuse include anxiety, confusion, increased heart rate, vomiting, violent behavior, and suicidal thoughts. Moreover, according to a 2017 review of spice use, the drug can also produce seizures, paranoia, hallucinations, heart attacks, and death. Consequently, the Centers for Disease Control report that thousands of people call poison centers annually after using synthetic cannabinoids. The year 2015 had the highest number of spice-related calls, at 7,794.
Most spice drugs are illegal in the US. Therefore, spice makers frequently change their chemical formulas to circumvent these laws. That makes spice especially dangerous, because the effects of the chemicals in the drugs are often unknown and unpredictable.