September 5th, 2023
In recent years, the media has been inundated with alarming stories about Spice, a synthetic cannabinoid that has been linked to “zombie-like” behaviour, cannibalism and seemingly superhuman strength. However, much of this portrayal is sensationalised and only serves to stigmatise those who use the drug. What is true, however, is that Spice addiction and abuse can have serious consequences on both the individual and their loved ones. In order to help those in need, it is first important to understand the reality behind the myths and what spice addiction involves.
What is Spice?
Spice is a synthetic cannabinoid, a chemical compound designed to mimic the effects of THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. It is often sold as a herbal smoking blend or liquid for use in e-cigarettes. The history of Spice can be traced back to the late 2000s when it first appeared on the market as a legal alternative to cannabis, and since then, its popularity has grown, particularly in the UK and the US.
Spice is usually smoked, either on its own or mixed with tobacco. The effects can vary widely due to the diverse range of synthetic cannabinoids used in its production. Some users report feelings of relaxation and euphoria, while others experience anxiety, paranoia and even hallucinations. The legal status of Spice in the UK has shifted over the years, with the drug now classified as a Class B substance under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016.
What is Spice addiction?
Spice addiction is a complex and multifaceted condition which causes you to keep taking Spice even though it is causing you harm.
The development of Spice addiction involves a combination of physical and psychological factors. Over time, regular use of the drug can lead to a buildup of tolerance, requiring you to consume larger amounts to achieve the desired effects. This can then result in a cycle of dependence and addiction where you may experience strong cravings and withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop or cut back on your use.
Am I addicted to Spice?
Identifying Spice addiction early on is crucial for getting effective help. However, the natural deceitfulness of addiction can make this difficult, as you may be in denial about your substance use or the severity of the situation. If you are concerned that you may be addicted to Spice, consider asking yourself the following questions which could point to Spice addiction symptoms:
- Do I use Spice more often than I intend to?
- Have I tried and failed to cut down or quit using Spice?
- Do I spend a significant amount of time obtaining, using or recovering from the effects of Spice?
- Do I experience cravings or a strong desire to use Spice?
- Has my Spice use led to problems at work, school or in my relationships?
- Have I given up important social, recreational or occupational activities because of my Spice use?
- Do I continue to use Spice despite experiencing physical or psychological problems related to my use?
- Do I require increasing amounts of Spice to achieve the desired effects or feel diminished effects with the same amount?
If you answered yes to these questions, it is likely you are addicted to Spice and should seek professional help.
Who is most at risk of Spice addiction?
While anyone can develop an addiction to Spice, certain factors can increase an individual’s risk. These factors can include:
- Genetic predisposition: A family history of substance use disorders can increase the likelihood of developing an addiction.
- Early exposure: Starting to use Spice at a young age can make an individual more vulnerable to Spice addiction.
- Co-occurring mental health issues: People with anxiety, depression, or other mental health disorders may be more likely to self-medicate with Spice, increasing the risk of Spice addiction.
- Social environment: Associating with peers who use Spice or other substances can increase the chances of experimentation and eventual Spice addiction.
- Stressful life events: Experiencing significant stress or trauma can make individuals more susceptible to Spice use as a coping mechanism, which can lead to Spice addiction.
What are the effects of Spice abuse and addiction?
The effects of Spice abuse and addiction can be far-reaching, with some of the potential effects including:
Physical health problems…
- Organ damage: Prolonged use of Spice can lead to damage to vital organs, such as the liver, kidneys and heart.
- Seizures: Some people may experience seizures as a result of Spice use, which can be life-threatening.
- Respiratory issues: Smoking Spice can cause respiratory problems, including bronchitis, lung inflammation and shortness of breath.
- Gastrointestinal issues: Spice users may experience abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea, which can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
Mental health issues
- Anxiety: Spice use can cause or exacerbate anxiety, leading to panic attacks and heightened feelings of stress.
- Depression: Prolonged use of Spice may contribute to the development or worsening of depressive symptoms.
- Psychosis: In some cases, Spice use can trigger episodes of psychosis, characterised by hallucinations, delusions and disordered thinking.
Impaired cognitive function
- Memory loss: Spice can impair both short-term and long-term memory, making it difficult for users to remember important information and events.
- Difficulty concentrating: The drug can negatively affect focus and attention, impacting a person’s ability to perform tasks that require concentration.
- Impaired decision-making: Spice use can hinder judgement and decision-making abilities, leading to risky or dangerous choices.
In addition to these health risks, Spice abuse and addiction can also lead to problems with relationships, legal issues, financial issues and problems at school and at work.
What does professional help for Spice addiction involve?
Treatment for Spice addiction typically involves a comprehensive programme combining:
- Spice detox: This is the process of removing Spice from your system which can help to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and cravings. This process may be medically supervised to ensure safety and comfort.
- Spice rehab: A specialist programme of therapy and other treatment approaches focusing on addressing the underlying issues that contribute to Spice addiction.
Debunking common misconceptions about Spice
There are several myths and misconceptions surrounding Spice which can contribute to confusion and misinformation about the drug. Here are four common myths about Spice and the truth behind them to help provide a more accurate understanding of the substance and its effects:
Myth 1: Spice turns people into cannibalistic zombies…
Fact: While there have been isolated reports of bizarre behaviour and aggression associated with Spice use, the idea that it turns people into cannibalistic zombies is based on a widely debunked case in the US. Media sensationalism has contributed to this myth, but it is important to understand that the vast majority of Spice users are no more dangerous than anyone else. However, Spice use can cause severe side effects such as anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations and aggression in some individuals, emphasising the potential dangers of the drug.
Myth 2: Spice gives people superhuman strength…
Fact: The idea that Spice grants users superhuman strength is another exaggeration perpetuated by sensationalised media reports. While it is true that some individuals may experience reduced pain, increased energy or extreme agitation under the influence of Spice, this does not equate to superhuman strength. While Spice can have varied and unpredictable effects on different people, and some users may become aggressive or agitated, attributing supernatural abilities to those who use Spice is a misrepresentation of the drug’s actual effects.
Myth 3: Spice is safer than cannabis…
Fact: Contrary to this myth, Spice is not safer than cannabis. While both substances may produce similar psychoactive effects, the synthetic cannabinoids found in Spice can be much more potent and unpredictable than THC. This increased potency can lead to a greater risk of adverse effects. The composition of Spice can also vary widely from one product to another, making it difficult for users to know what they are consuming and increasing the risk of harmful reactions.
Myth 4: Spice is legal and, therefore, safe…
Fact: Although Spice was initially marketed as a legal alternative to cannabis, its legal status has changed in many countries, including the UK, where it is now classified as a Class B substance under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016. It is also important to understand that a substance’s legal status does not necessarily indicate its safety. Spice is a synthetic drug with a wide range of potential side effects, many of which can be severe or life-threatening. The drug’s unpredictable nature and potential for harm make it a dangerous substance, regardless of its legality.
How to get help for Spice addiction
If you or someone you know is struggling with Spice addiction, it’s essential to seek professional help as soon as possible. Oasis Runcorn offers comprehensive assistance for those suffering from Spice addiction. Our experienced and compassionate team of professionals can help you break free from the cycle of addiction and regain control of your life. Don’t wait – reach out to us today and get started on the road to recovery.