Spice is a popular brand name of synthetic marijuana, an artificial creation that mimics the effects of actual cannabis. The drug is composed of a chemical solution that is usually sprayed onto a neutral plant base to simulate the experience of smoking the cannabis plant. There is a widespread cultural belief that marijuana is harmless and not addictive, therefore, some users might feel that the synthetic variant is also safe and cannot cause addiction. However, this is not true. Actual marijuana has been shown to be addictive as has synthetic marijuana. Synthetic marijuana has more potential danger, however, because it is made with an unpredictable mix of chemical additives that can have equally unpredictable effects.
Regular users of synthetic marijuana may begin to experience withdrawal symptoms and cravings when they try to stop. If this happens, they need to enter a residential synthetic marijuana drug detox program to have their symptoms medically treated while they adjust to not using the drug.
Since spice is such a new drug, the direct effect of it on the human brain has not yet been adequately studied by medical science. It is known that most formulations act on the cannabinoid receptors in the brain in the same way that regular marijuana does, which means that it has at least the same potential for addiction.
Synthetic marijuana drug detox will therefore usually be conducted as detox for standard marijuana would. Patients go through an initial period of several days where they stay over at a medical facility to ensure they do not have access to the drug and that any physical and mental health symptoms are being adequately treated. This may extend to a longer period of inpatient treatment if the addiction is severe.
Detox at home almost never works. When a physical dependency and addiction has formed, the withdrawal symptoms and cravings are generally too strong for the drug user to overcome on their own. Interactions with family or loved ones can also enable the addiction, often without anyone involved realizing what is happening.
A stay at a certified treatment facility both ensures that the patients gets the full range of treatment they need, and that they are also in an environment where there will be no distractions or prompts to use the drug.
There will usually be an initial detox period of at least a few days. Some treatment facilities are equipped to do this, but others require patients to go to a nearby hospital or medical facility first to complete their initial detox before going on to a longer inpatient treatment stay.
During initial medical detox, patients are treated with any medications they may need to manage their symptoms. They also receive mental health counseling, which is important as there may be an undiagnosed psychological issue contributing to the addiction.
The withdrawal symptoms of spice can mirror those of standard marijuana, but due to the mix of chemicals that are used there can also be more unpredictable symptoms. In general, regular Spice users have reported gastrointestinal disturbances, insomnia, aches and pains, excessive sweating and depression when trying to quit. Some have had psychotic episodes or thoughts of suicide.
Since Spice is still so new to medical science, there are currently not any specific drugs used for treatment of symptoms or management of cravings.
If the pattern of the addiction appears to mirror that of an addiction to regular marijuana, some of the medications used there may also be used for Spice. Patients who are having issues with anxiety and insomnia sometimes receive gabapentin (a muscle relaxant) and buspirone (an anti-anxiety medication), for example. Medications prescribed will generally be to directly treat the symptoms of withdrawal, so they can vary greatly by individual.
Initial residential detox is vital if an addiction has formed, as there is no other effective way to break it. This time can also be used to determine if any mental health issues are present and if it would be effective to continue on with a longer period of inpatient treatment. Residential treatment is the only sure way to break the hold of a drug addiction permanently.
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