K2 Drug Facts | A Center for Addiction Recovery

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Information provided below is courtesy of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

K2 Overview

K2 Addiction Treatment"Spice" is used to describe a diverse family of herbal mixtures marketed under many names, including K2, fake marijuana, Yucatan Fire, Skunk, Moon Rocks, and others. These products contain dried, shredded plant material and presumably, chemical additives that are responsible for their psychoactive (mind-altering) effects. Spice mixtures are sold in many countries in head shops, gas stations, and via the Internet, although their sale and use are illegal throughout most European countries. Easy access has likely contributed to Spice's popularity. While Spice products are labeled "not for human consumption," they are marketed to people who are interested in herbal alternatives to marijuana (cannabis).

Marketing labels often make unverified claims that Spice products contain up to 3.0 grams of a natural psychoactive material taken from a variety of plants. While Spice products do contain dried plant material, chemical analyses of seized spice mixtures have revealed the presence of synthetic (or designer) cannabinoid compounds, such as JWH-018 and HU-210. These bind to the same cannabinoid receptors in the body as THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), the primary psychoactive component of marijuana.

Street names for K2 include: Spice, Bliss, Black Mamba, Bombay Blue, Fake Weed, Genie,Zohai

K2/Spice Methods of Abuse

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). Like marijuana, Spice is abused mainly by smoking. Sometimes Spice is mixed with marijuana or is prepared as an herbal infusion for drinking.

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. As mentioned above, 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.1,2 Spice users report experiences similar to those produced by marijuana, and regular users may experience withdrawal and addiction symptoms.

Notably, 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.

Because the chemical composition of the various products sold as Spice is unknown, it is likely that some varieties also contain substances with dramatically different effects than those expected by the user. There is also concern about the presence of harmful heavy metal residues in Spice mixtures. However, without further analyses, it is difficult to determine whether these concerns are justified. Physiological effects of K2 include increased heart rate and increase of blood pressure. It appears to be stored in the body for long periods of time, and therefore the long-term effects on humans are not fully known.

Spice Addiction Treatment

Often people who suffer from an addiction to spice also use other harder, more dangerous illicit drugs in combination. The condition is called a dual diagnosis and to overcome the addiction successfully requires skilled medical attention and the services of an addiction treatment facility.

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