Synthetic marijuana, known as Spice or K2, is gaining attention among high school seniors. According to The University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future studyone in every nine 12th graders reported using this drug.
Yesterday R. Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the White House ONDCP, urged parents to help stop teen use of Spice / K2. “It’s not in the vocabulary of parents, and they need to be aware of it so that when they have that conversation about substance abuse they are knowledgeable,” he said. “These drugs are dangerous and can cause serious harm.”
Another synthetic drug to be aware of is Bath Salts, a synthetic powdered stimulants – sold online and in drug paraphernalia stores as bath salts and plant food.
So what exactly are these new synthetic “designer” drugs? Here’s what you need to know:
Also Known As: K2, Fake Marijuana, Skunk, Yucatan Fire, Moon Rocks and others.
What Is It? Sold legally as incense under brand names such as “K2,″ Spice is a an herbal-and-chemical compound that, when smoked, simulates the effects of the tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, in marijuana. While Spice products are labeled “not for human consumption,” they are marketed to people who are interested in herbal alternatives to marijuana (cannabis) and are sold in gas stations, head shops (retail outlets specializing in drug paraphernalia) and via the Internet. Some Spice products are sold as “incense” but resemble potpourri rather than popular, more familiar incense products (common forms include short cones or long, thin sticks).
How Is It Abused? Like marijuana, Spice is usually abused by smoking, but it can also be prepared as an herbal infusion for drinking.
How Does It Work? Spice appears to stimulate the same brain receptors as marijuana does and produces a similar high.
What Are the Health Effects of Spice Abuse? Presently, there are no large-scale studies on the effects of Spice on human health or behavior. The cannbinoids found in Spice bind to the same receptors as THC; however, some of them bind more strongly to the receptors, which could lead to a much more powerful and unpredictable effect. Spice users report experiences similar to those produced by marijuana, and regular users may experience withdrawal and addiction symptoms.
The compounds found in Spice have not been fully characterized for their effects and importantly, their toxicity, in humans. However, a variety of mood and perceptual effects have been described, and patients who have been taken to Poison Control Centers in Texas report symptoms that include rapid heart rate, vomiting, agitation, confusion, and hallucinations.
What is the Extent of Use? This year’s Monitoring the Future survey captured the use of Spice among high school seniors for the first time. According to the results, almost 1 in 9 or 11.4% of high school seniors reported using Spice in the past year.
What is the Legal Status? A number of States have instituted bans on Spice and Spice-like products and/or synthetic cannabinoid-containing products, and many others are considering legislation forbidding the sale or possession of Spice.
Note: Because Spice is marketed as being “natural,” some teens may think it’s safe to use. But the ingredients used to make Spice can vary, and no one’s watching to see what people producing Spice are using—meaning the results could have dangerous effects on your teen’s body and brain.
For more information on Spice / K2 please see this NIDA InfoFacts.
Also Known As: Ivory Wave, Purple Wave, Red Dove, Blue Silk, Zoom, Bloom, Cloud Nine, Ocean Snow, Lunar Wave, Vanilla Sky, White Lightning, Scarface and Hurricane Charlie.
What Is It? A synthetic powder typically sold in small packets online and in drug paraphernalia shops. These products often contain various amphetamine-like chemicals, such as methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MPDV), mephedrone and pyrovalerone. Because these drugs are relatively new and for now unregulated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), scientists are not exactly sure of the ingredients in each brand.
How Is It Abused? While labeled as “not fit for human consumption” these drugs are typically taken orally, by inhalation, or by injection, with the worst outcomes apparently associated with snorting or intravenous administration.
How Does It Work? These chemicals act in the brain like stimulant drugs (they are sometimes touted as cocaine substitutes) and are said to produce highs like cocaine, Ecstasy and methamphetamines.
What Are the Health Effects of Bath Salts Abuse? It is too early to tell what the exact short- and long-term effects from abusing bath salts is, but what little we do know so far is alarming enough. Chemicals in bath salts mimic the side effects of amphetamines—stimulants like cocaine or meth—such as rapid heartbeat, increased blood pressure and body temperature and even seizures, which have brought many people to emergency rooms across the country. Doctors and clinicians at U.S. poison centers have indicated that ingesting or snorting “bath salts” containing synthetic stimulants can cause chest pains, increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, agitation, hallucinations, extreme paranoia, and delusions.
What is the Legal Status? Several states, counties, cities and local municipalities have introduced legislation to ban these products.
Note: Because these chemicals act like stimulants, they present a high abuse and addiction liability. Bath salts have been reported to trigger intense cravings not unlike those experienced by methamphetamine users, and clinical reports from other countries appear to corroborate their addictiveness. They can also confer a high risk for other medical adverse effects. Some of these may be linked to the fact that, beyond their known psychoactive ingredients, the contents of “bath salts” are largely unknown, which makes the practice of abusing them, by any route, that much more dangerous. Mephedrone is of particular concern because, according to the United Kingdom experience, it presents a high risk for overdose.
Last February, Kerlikowske stated: “[Bath Salts] pose a serious threat to the health and well-being of young people and anyone who uses them.”
Parents, and adults with a child in your life, you have extraordinary power to influence the decisions young people make. We know active, open communication between parents and kids is the most effective prevention tool. To learn how to have more effective conversations about drugs and alcohol with your teen, please visit our Parent Toolkit.
If you suspect or know your child is experimenting with Spice, Bath Salts or any other drug, please visit Time To Act. If your child needs help for a drug or alcohol problem or addiction, please visit Time To Get Help or call our Toll-Free Parents Helpline (855-DRUGFREE) to speak to one of our Parent Specialist for guidance.
Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse