Causes & Symptoms of Synthetic Marijuana Addiction

Since 1957, Azure Acres Treatment Center has given hope to individuals struggling with synthetic marijuana addiction and its lasting effects. Azure Acres provides residents high-quality alcohol and drug abuse treatment near Santa Rosa, California.

Understanding Synthetic Marijuana Addiction

Learn about synthetic marijuana addiction

Synthetic marijuana, otherwise known as spice or K2, is a substance that is constantly growing in popularity throughout the country, even though negative side effects can result from use. This drug contains a chemical compound that was initially created to mimic the effects of regular marijuana. However, the many chemicals that are utilized to create these compounds have developed a drug that is very dangerous and does much more than just produce effects similar to regular marijuana. In addition, the formulation of these compounds changes often, as this is a manmade substance. Therefore, one batch of synthetic marijuana could produce a euphoric high, while another batch could lead a user into full-blown psychosis. Sadly, just one use of this substance has led to death.

Similar to the abuse of any substance, as soon as individuals begin continually abusing synthetic marijuana, it can become exceptionally challenging to stop without the help of professionals. Even when individuals face negative consequences because of their use, they keep using because they are not able to stop their pattern of abuse. Luckily, there are treatment options available to help arm these individuals with the skills needed to put an end to their abuse and live drug-free.


Synthetic marijuana addiction statistics

The true prevalence of synthetic marijuana abuse is unknown, however, there are a number of statistics that show the many dangers associated with the abuse of this substance. For example, between January and June of 2014, nearly 800 cases of synthetic marijuana exposure were reported to poison centers throughout the country. Within a two-week-long period in March of 2014, Louisiana reported that emergency departments within the state treated more than 100 people for synthetic marijuana overdose. Lastly, in May of 2014, roughly 120 people within five days suffered synthetic marijuana overdose in Texas.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for synthetic marijuana addiction

The causes and risk factors that can determine one’s chances of abusing synthetic marijuana can include the following:

Genetic: Similar to the abuse of other substances, the onset of synthetic marijuana use disorder is said to have a genetic link. Those with a family history of substance use disorders, antisocial personality disorder, and/or conduct disorder have a stronger likelihood of abusing this substance than those without this genetic background.

Environmental: The environment in which one lives can play a major role in whether or not he or she will develop synthetic marijuana use disorder. Things such as being exposed to synthetic marijuana abuse or other substance abuse, growing up in an unstable environment, or going through numerous forms of trauma can all factor into an individual’s vulnerability to abuse a substance like this.

Risk Factors:

  • Possessing limited self-control
  • Struggling with behavioral disinhibition
  • Personal or family history of conduct disorder or antisocial personality disorder
  • Personal or family history of other substance use disorders
  • Suffering from childhood maltreatment
  • Experiencing trauma
  • Beginning to abuse drugs and/or alcohol at an early age

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of synthetic marijuana addiction

Since there are many different chemicals within the compounds that make up synthetic marijuana, the signs and symptoms of them can vary in severity, type, and duration. Some of the potential signs and symptoms of this form of substance abuse can include:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Failing to fulfill obligations at work or at home
  • Continually increasing the dosage of the substance consumed or the frequency with which it is consumed
  • Inappropriate laughter
  • Social withdrawal
  • Belligerence
  • No longer participating in activities that were once enjoyed
  • Physical aggression
  • Decline in occupational performance

Physical symptoms:

  • Panic attacks
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation
  • Impaired motor coordination
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Confusion
  • Paranoid ideation
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Psychosis
  • Impaired judgment
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Emotional detachment
  • Fluctuating moods
  • Agitation and irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Mania
  • Feelings of euphoria


Effects of synthetic marijuana addiction

The longer that a person continues to struggle with synthetic marijuana abuse, the more likely he or she is to suffer from a number of detrimental effects. Even one single use of this substance can be highly devastating. Some of the many long- and short-term effects of this form of substance abuse can include:

  • Decline in occupational functioning
  • Onset of, or worsening of current, symptoms of other mental health conditions
  • Need for hospitalization
  • Psychosis
  • Self-harm
  • Chronic suicidal ideation
  • Disturbed relationships
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Familial discord

Co-Occurring Disorders

Synthetic marijuana addiction and co-occurring disorders

Those with synthetic marijuana use disorder might also struggle with the following co-occurring conditions:

  • Conduct disorder
  • Other substance use disorders
  • Antisocial personality disorder

Withdrawal & Overdose

Effects of synthetic marijuana withdrawal and overdose

Effects of synthetic marijuana withdrawal: If synthetic marijuana is being abused, users place themselves at risk for going through a period of withdrawal when they stop that use. The symptoms connected to withdrawal will vary based on a number of things and may include:

  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Hot and cold flashes
  • Cravings for synthetic marijuana
  • Lethargy
  • Experiencing hunger, yet not being able to keep food down
  • Nausea
  • Violent temper tantrums
  • Diarrhea

Effects of synthetic marijuana overdose: When a substance is consumed at such a rate that an individual’s body becomes unable to metabolize it, an overdose can occur. Symptoms of a synthetic marijuana overdose can include:

  • Lapsing into a coma
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Delusions
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Depersonalization
  • Derealization

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I have been in and out of treatment for years and could not remain sober for more than a couple years sometimes no more than 60 days. I attended groups and one on one therapy with my counselor there and this time something magical happened for me there. Azure Acres saved my life -- check this place out if you are looking for treatment!

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