The Dangers of Synthetic Cannabinoid Addiction and Rehab Options

SpringBoard Recovery provides effective treatment for substance use & mental health disorders.

Synthetic cannabinoid addiction is a serious problem. When someone buys a packet of synthetic cannabinoids, they never really know what they are getting. Using these drugs can lead to life-threatening complications. The American Association of Poison Control Centers reported at least 2695 exposures in 2016.

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The Monitoring the Future Study showed data of how many teens used synthetic cannabinoids in 2020. The highest group was 10th grade students, 2.5% of those in the study had used drugs in this classification, followed by 2.4% of 12th grade students. The lowest was1.6% of all 8th grade students in the study had used synthetic cannabinoids in 2020.

It is not only teenagers that use these drugs. Many people in their 20s and 30s also use them. Synthetic cannabinoids are widely available in gas stations, novelty shops, drug paraphernalia shops, and on the internet.

Synthetic cannabinoids are unsafe substances even though they are easy to get. There are no standards that the manufacturers follow. Two packages of the same brand of a product can be completely different. The amount of chemicals can also vary within the same batch. Synthetic cannabinoids could even be contaminated with toxic chemicals or other drugs.

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What are Synthetic Cannabinoids?

Synthetic cannabinoids are a group of man-made chemicals sprayed onto plant material to have the same effect as marijuana. Some people use it like marijuana, but it is not a natural substance. It is not even one drug. Hundreds of different chemicals are made and sold as synthetic cannabinoids. New ones are created every year.

These chemicals are called cannabinoids because they work on the same parts of the brain as THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. The federal government has banned many of the substances. State governments have banned entire ingredient categories, but the companies get around the laws by using different ingredients. They sometimes label the packages as not for human consumption.

Synthetic cannabinoids can be used in a few different ways. The chemicals are sprayed onto plant materials and then smoked. Some are added to herbal teas or food. They can also be mixed into a liquid and then used with e-cigarettes.

Street Names for Synthetic Cannabinoids

There are a lot of different street names for these drugs:

  • K2
  • Spice
  • Ak-47
  • Mr. Happy
  • Scooby Snax
  • Kush
  • Kronic
  • Synthetic marijuana
  • Spike
  • Green Giant
  • Smacked
  • Wicked X
  • Geeked Up
  • Ninja
  • Caution
  • Red Giant
  • Keisha Kole
  • 24-Karat Dream
  • Yucatan Fire
  • Joker
  • Black Mamba
  • Bliss
  • Bombay Blue
  • Fake Weed
  • Genie
  • Moon Rocks
  • Solar Flare

The History of Synthetic Cannabinoids

Synthetic cannabinoids became available in Europe in 2005 and made their way to the United States in 2008. In 2010 the US Drug Enforcement Administration used emergency power to attempt to control the substances. In 2012 laws were passed banning the ingredients. New ingredients continue to pop up, 84 brand new ingredients were identified in 2015. With the ingredients constantly changing there is no way to tell what someone is actually getting.

The Side Effects of Synthetic Cannabinoids

There is no accepted medical use for these drugs in the United States. Synthetic cannabinoids can cause severe illness and even death. The active ingredients are much stronger than what is found in natural marijuana. There are a significant amount of side effects including:

  • Agitation
  • Sleepiness
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Psychosis
  • Violent behavior
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Incoordination
  • Stroke
  • Seizures
  • Tachycardia
  • Hypertension
  • Severe nausea and vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Heart attack
  • Kidney failure
  • Tremors
  • Anxiety
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Reduced blood supply to the heart
  • Paranoia
  • Death

Even with all of the above side effects and the possibility of death people still use synthetic cannabinoids. Some people may mistake it for a natural product because it looks like a dried plant. They work the same way that marijuana does, producing a false sense of safety. Some use it because it does not show up on drug tests. The results that these chemicals have on the brain are dangerous and unpredictable.

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Can Someone Become Addicted to Synthetic Cannabinoids?

Yes, anyone can become addicted to these drugs if they use them often. The mind-altering reactions are very similar to marijuana. The more someone uses the higher the chance they will not be able to stop using. Many patients in one study also had co-occurring disorders and were multi-substance users.

Withdrawal Symptoms of Synthetic Cannabinoids

The same study from above showed that many of the adverse one-time reactions were the same as withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms most often occurred in daily synthetic cannabinoid users. The list of symptoms from above has some serious issues that should be monitored by medical personnel when someone decides to try to break free from the addiction.

Recovery from Synthetic Cannabinoid Addiction

Due to the many varied chemicals in synthetic cannabinoids, treatment can be very different from marijuana treatment. The first step may need to be detoxing. Drug detox is the process of getting all of the drugs out of a person’s body. This lays the groundwork for behavior changes.

Types of Detox

There are a few different forms of detox. Professional help should be sought out because of not knowing what chemicals may have been part of the synthetic cannabinoids.

Medical detox- Medical detox uses medical supervision to monitor withdrawal symptoms. For some people, monitoring is necessary to watch for life-threatening symptoms such as seizures or psychotic episodes. In this setting, medications can be given to avoid some symptoms.

Medication assisted treatment- Medication assisted treatment combines medication and behavioral therapy.  This treatment uses FDA approved medications to manage withdrawal symptoms. These medications do not impair a person’s mental state. Taking care of the physical withdrawal symptoms with medication allows for the person to focus on changing behavior.

Holistic detox– A holistic detox approach uses natural methods to support the body while it empties of drugs or alcohol. Many people who suffer from addictions do not have healthy bodies. The method combines nutritional therapy, emotional support, and exercise programs to assist recovery.

Co-occurring Disorders

A co-occurring disorder is when a mental health issue is happening at the same time as an addiction. They can be completely independent of each other, but often a person may be using drugs to try to self-medicate. The best way to succeed is to treat both issues at the same time.

Some co-occurring disorders include:

  • Depression– this is more than just feeling sad for a little while. Depression can cause low energy, cause problems at work and in a person’s social and family life.
  • Anxiety– an all-consuming nervousness that does not go away. There are different types of anxiety disorders including, general anxiety disorder, phobia related disorders, and panic disorder. There is also social anxiety, a fear of social situations where a person does not want to be part of large groups.
  • Bipolar disorder-Bipolar disorder used to be called manic depression.  This mental issue creates extreme mood swings and energy changes. This can interfere with the ability to carry out normal everyday tasks. This mental health issue is usually diagnosed during someone’s teen years or early adulthood. Those who suffer from bipolar disorder are likely to also have a substance use disorder.
  • Borderline personality disorder– Someone with borderline personality disorder has a distorted view of themselves can be viewed by others as manipulative, highly dependent, and overly dramatic.  These behaviors are how they cope with pain and negative emotions.
  • PTSD– Post-traumatic stress disorder can be the result of different types of events that happen to a person. This can include domestic abuse, being involved in warfare, experiencing a natural disaster, or even a traffic accident. Symptoms can vary from person to person, and they may self-medicate by using alcohol or misusing medications.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder– OCD is characterized by obsessive thoughts that leading to anxiety which then leads to compulsive behaviors to try to get rid of the thoughts. This is a common mental health struggle that can occur with substance use disorder.
  • Schizophrenia– this is a chronic brain disorder that influences how a person thinks, behaves, and feels.  It can be difficult for a person suffering from schizophrenia to tell the difference between reality and what is not real.
  • Panic Disorder– a person with panic disorder will have sudden and repeated attacks of fear that last for several minutes at a time. These moments are characterized by a fear of disaster even when there is no danger. These attacks can happen at any time, people worry about the possibility of having another attack. These are called panic attacks. These are significant panic attacks; they feel like they are having a heart attack. Other physical signs include sweating or chills, breathing problems, stomach pain and nausea. They will avoid places where they have had panic attacks in the past.

Types of Synthetic Cannabinoid Addiction Rehab

Detoxing is only the beginning of recovery. Removing all of a substance that has been used from the body does not cure addiction.  While the physical cravings are taken care of by detox the psychological issues associated with addiction must still be addressed.  An individual should now be clear-headed enough to learn how to change their behaviors to accomplish long term recovery.

Types of Drug Rehab Programs

Inpatient treatment centers make a variety of benefits available to those who want to recover from drug addiction. Patients reside at a facility full time, they go to therapy, eat in the facility, are assigned a room, and have twenty-four-hour support for the length of their stay.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)- may also be known as a day treatment program.  This type of program is the most intensive outpatient program.  These programs meet five to seven days a week for several hours a day. Afterward, the patient returns home. The American Society of Addiction Medicine recommends PHPs provide twenty hours of programming weekly.

Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) are good for people who do not have co-occurring disorders but need more than a once-a-week counseling session.  IOPs usually meet three to four times a week for approximately three hours at a time.  The primary focus is group therapy, but there is always the opportunity for individual counseling if needed.

Traditional outpatient therapy uses individual therapy sessions or group sessions. This style of treatment is great for someone who has finished an inpatient stay and wants more support to stay clean.

Our alcohol recovery program allows you to keep work and family commitments while focusing on your sobriety.

SpringBoard Recovery Provides Synthetic Cannabinoid Addiction Treatment

At SpringBoard Recovery, we have helped people from all walks of life get the treatment they need. We have worked with all kinds of addictions. We create an individual plan for each person who works with us.

We offer multiple kinds of therapy:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps patients recognize negative thought patterns, stop the thoughts, and replace them with healthy thoughts.
  • Group counseling – It provides the opportunity to learn from the experiences of others facing the same issues. Group therapy remains confidential and occurs in a structured environment.
  • Individual counseling  – This is one on one with a licensed therapist who specializes in addictions. It allows for in-depth counseling on any topic needed at the time.
  • Nutrition therapy– When someone is addicted to drugs, they are not thinking clearly and tend to make poor health decisions. At SpringBoard Recovery we can help you get back on the right path with a healthy nutrition plan.
  • Art Therapy– Art allows someone to freely express emotion. Sometimes a person can not figure out how to express themselves with words. Creating art is also a way to distract from cravings.

SpringBoard is serious about your success. We have achieved The Joint Commission’s National Quality Approval. This is a benchmark in the healthcare industry given to those who go above and beyond the standards. Not every rehab facility has this accolade. Helping people get the treatment they need is our priority.

Learn More About Synthetic Cannabinoid Addiction and Treatment Options

At SpringBoard Recovery, we accept most major insurance plans. Do you need more information about synthetic cannabinoid treatment options? Please contact us today.


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