Tag: JWH-018

A Dangerous New Form of Spice is Hitting the Streets

Synthetic Marijuana is Back

Synthetic marijuana is nothing new. It’s been around for decades, though it only gained popularity in the late 2000’s. As synthetic cannabinoids, often called spice, gained popularity, they also gained infamy. I’m talking, of course, about the news reports calling spice “pure evil” and the cases of spice induced psychosis.

Synthetic marijuana effects
image via Wikimedia Commons

After the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012 made many synthetic drugs illegal, it appeared the “spice epidemic” was under control. Well, according to some new reports it’s back and worse than ever.

It appears there’s a dangerous new type of synthetic cannabinoid hitting streets across the country. Consider that during the first three weeks of April there were around 1,000 calls to poison control centers about spice. That breaks down to around five calls a day!

The nature of these calls is changing as well. According to Dr. Mark Ryan, the Director of the Louisiana Poison Center, “It’s not, ‘Hey, I smoked this thing and I don’t feel well.’ It’s, ‘This guy’s trying to tear up the E.R. and we have him locked down in restraints. We don’t know what he’s taken. What do we do?’” (The New York Times)

Learn everything you ever wanted to know about synthetic drugs

What Do We Know?

Although we know the basics about synthetic cannabinoids, there’s not a lot of information on this new rash of spice abuse. What we are sure of is the following:

  • There were around 1,000 calls to poison control centers about negative reactions to synthetic marijuana during the first three weeks of April.
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  • This more than doubles the total number of calls poison control centers received during January, February, and March.
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  • Reports of negative reactions to spice are occurring four times more frequently than they occurred in 2014.
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  • Alabama, Mississippi, and New York have issued health alerts for the effects of synthetic marijuana. These include violent behavior, delusions, and anxiety.
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  • There’s no available data on the number of deaths due to spice abuse, what is known is that one individual from Louisiana has died and two more are in intensive care.
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  • One hospital in Louisiana saw over 100 spice related admissions in February alone.
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  • Speaking of hospital visits, upwards of 400 Mississippi residents visited the ER in April due to spice.
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  • During 2014, the DEA arrested approximately forty individuals and confiscated over 400 pounds of synthetic drugs (this includes both spice and bath salt like chemicals) in Mississippi and Alabama.
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    What Can We Do?

    It’s clear there’s something strange happening with spice. Remember, although the drug is dangerous, it isn’t usually this dangerous. So, what’s going on and what can we do?

    Well, the first step is figuring out what exactly is causing this surge in dangerous spice related side effects and ”poisonings.” According to Dr. Ryan, it may have to do with a new form of the drug. He believes many of the cases involve something called “mab-chminaca.”

    A quick search turns up numerous results for this strangely named chemical. It appears mab-chminaca is the latest synthetic cannabinoid. It’s a slightly tweaked form of the classic versions of spice – JWH-018, HU-210, and others.

    So we may know why these extreme reactions are occurring. What can we do though? Well, the first step is continuing to educate the public about the effects of spice. That alone should make a dramatic impact on the number of people abusing synthetic marijuana.

    Following educational outreach, we need more treatment! And not simply cookie-cutter, twenty-eight day treatment, but individualized spice addiction treatment. It’s through this kind of care, this patient-centered approach to synthetic cannabinoid abuse, that change will occur. Let’s just hope that change occurs soon.

    Learn about Lighthouse Recovery Institute’s spice abuse treatment program!

    We are here to support you during your time of need and help you make the best decision for yourself or your loved one. Click below to speak to a member of our staff directly.

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