What Are the Side Effects of Spice?

Spice is a common name for synthetic marijuana – an intoxicating substance that purports to have the same effects as everyday cannabis while being legal. However, Spice is significantly different from actual marijuana, and its legal status is frequently under question. The intoxicating factors of this drug come from a combination of many different synthetic, chemical agents that are often sprayed onto shredded plant material to make it look like marijuana. Manufacturers are able to claim that it’s technically legal because they keep switching the specific chemical compounds used each time an older variety is made illegal.

Governments are constantly trying to keep up with these manufacturers due to the fact that Spice or K2 is actually quite dangerous. Spice comes with a wide range of possible negative side effects and can cause an overdose. Unfortunately, use of this “legal” substance is becoming more popular, particularly among young people.

Possible Side Effects

Spice can cause an alarming number of both physical and psychological side effects, some of which can be life-threatening. It’s difficult to keep a comprehensive list of these effects due to the fact that the specific formula of Spice is constantly changing and may be different depending on the manufacturer, but many cases of poisoning related to this drug have been documented in recent years. In New York City alone, there have been around 8,000 cases since January 2015.

The most commonly reported side effects of Spice include:

  • Red eyes
  • Dry mouth
  • Agitation
  • Vomiting
  • Anxiety
  • Increased heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Emotional detachment
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Psychosis
  • Seizures

Symptoms like anxiety and paranoia tend to be much more intense with Spice than with real marijuana, and when combined with hallucinations and psychotic episodes, a person can lose touch with reality and begin exhibiting erratic and potentially dangerous behavior.

Other, less direct side effects of synthetic marijuana include addiction and corresponding withdrawal symptoms when people attempt to quit using it. Real marijuana is well known for not being physically addictive, but the chemical agents in Spice can be highly addictive. Unaware of this, users may quickly develop a physical dependence on a drug that causes nasty side effects.

Addiction and Withdrawal

Former users of Spice have reported an extremely difficult detoxification period and intense cravings that can crop up for several years after quitting. Relapses are rather common, further exposing addicted individuals to negative side effects and the risk of dangerous overdose.

Spice is also one of the few drugs that can produce deadly withdrawal symptoms. Though it’s important to address addiction to this drug as soon as possible, no one should attempt to stop intake of Spice before talking to a medical professional. Again, both the physical and psychological symptoms can be life-threatening, especially if abuse of this drug has been heavy and ongoing.

Spice withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive sweating
  • Dehydration
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of motivation
  • Apathy
  • Kidney damage or failure
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Psychosis

There’s good reason why synthetic marijuana is continually being outlawed by local and federal governments. The only reason any variety of this drug might be legal somewhere is because authorities haven’t caught up to it yet. Spice is an incredibly dangerous drug and should be avoided.

About The Contributor
Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff, American Addiction Centers
The editorial staff of Greenhouse Treatment Center is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed... Read More
Concerned about your
drug or alcohol use?
Take our addiction quiz today. It's fast, confidential, and free.