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Is synthetic marijuana dangerous?

Synthetic marijuana or synthetic cannabinoids is often referred to as fake weed and have been used as an alternative to marijuana since the products were introduced in the early 2000s.  These man-made products are produced in labs and are made to mimic the effects of marijuana. Countless synthetic marijuana products are being sold today. These types of drugs are classified as new psychoactive substances, or unregulated mind-altering substances intended to produce the same effects as other drugs.  Some of the common side effects of synthetic marijuana include elevated mood, relaxation, altered perception, psychosis, extreme anxiety, confusion, paranoia, and hallucinations. Other common symptoms include suicidal thoughts, rapid heart rate, raised blood pressure, vomiting, kidney damage, and seizures.

Synthetic marijuana is dangerous because of the different chemicals that are found within it.  This drug affects the brain cell receptors that respond to THC. Some of the common side effects are similar to marijuana.  There have been reports of overdose that have caused fatal heart attacks. Other dangerous health problems include acute kidney injury resulting in hospitalization.  Some of the short-term effects include an increase in blood pressure, tremors, and heightened anxiety. The regular use of synthetic marijuana can result in increased tolerance and needing more of the drug.  The daily use of synthetic weed will also create a physical and psychological addiction and dependency. When someone dependent on synthetic marijuana stops using the drug, they will experience withdrawal symptoms.  The withdrawal symptoms include headaches, severe anxiety, depression, and irritability.

Throughout the United States, there has been a surge of patients seeking emergency care after using synthetic marijuana.  Synthetic marijuana is made with nearly 100 different chemicals that are sprayed onto dried shredded plant material. Many chemicals are used, and all have different traits, and many commercial chemistry labs in China and the Pacific Rim countries produce the chemicals on demand for distributors.  All of the chemicals produced are active CB1 receptors in the brain and are the same receptors activated when consuming marijuana. The activity of synthetic cannabinoids can often be hundreds of times stronger than marijuana. All of the chemicals that are used to make synthetic marijuana are illegal to possess and sell within the United States.

Synthetic marijuana is dangerous and easy to obtain, which is why they are popular among young adults and teens.  Potential dealers will order the chemical compounds through the internet, and most of the chemicals arrive as a white powder.  The product is then sprayed onto products that are sold and consumed by unknowing addicts. Synthetic marijuana is 30 times more likely to harm the user than regular marijuana.  Roughly around 7 to 10% of high school students and approximately 15% of adults have tried synthetic marijuana. Synthetic marijuana use is a growing problem in the United States and anyone addicted to synthetic marijuana can find help through one of the many drug treatment centers within the nation.

Club Drug Family Intervention and Substance Use Treatment

Synthetic drugs are dangerous because they are manmade substances to produce similar effects as other drugs. It is impossible to know what chemicals are in these drugs and how they would affect someone. Unfortunately, drugs like synthetic marijuana are common recreational substances and are responsible for dangerous adverse effects like psychosis. These drugs are commonly by adolescents and young adults that take part in recreational drug use. Even using drugs recreationally leads to addiction, and friends and family should be aware of the signs of addiction.

Addictions lead to various physical and psychological indicators; some are more difficult to notice than others. However, common signs include secretiveness, lying or deception, theft, having large amounts of cash at times but no money at all at other times. Addiction causes changes in social groups, new and unusual friends, and even odd phone or text conversations. The family may notice repeated unexplained outings, often with a sense of urgency. Major red flags should be drug paraphernalia and stashes of drugs.

Early intervention is essential, and this may involve hiring a professional interventionist to help. Family intervention is a well-organized process and gathering of family and friends who meet to convince the addict they need help. An intervention is not meant to point the finger at the addict or place blame. An intervention conveys a loving message and helps the addict understand how their addiction impacts them and the lives of the people around them.

Typically, family intervention is a two-day process, and the first day is spent with the family and the interventionist. Everything is planned, like who is attending, where it is hosted, and when it takes place. Every member of the intervention team has something to say and writes it down. The intervention is even rehearsed, and the family is prepared for every outcome, even if the addict says no. The point of the intervention is to get the addict to treatment even if it means setting boundaries and telling them the consequences.

The rehabilitation process for synthetic drug addiction involves detox, residential treatment, or an outpatient program. The detoxification process is necessary because it helps the addict manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Synthetic drugs do not necessarily cause severe withdrawal symptoms, and a conventional detox is usually an effective option. Conventional detox programs do not offer medical support to manage withdrawal symptoms, whereas medical detox programs provide medical supervision.

The next phase of treatment should involve residential rehabilitation. Inpatient programs are either long-term or short-term, and the severity of addiction would determine this. If the family has organized an intervention, their loved one will likely go to a residential treatment center. The family or interventionist should also arrange aftercare support, which are peer support groups, outpatient services, or 12-step meetings.

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