Synthetic drugs are a relatively new addition to the drug market. They are also known as ‘Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS)’ and were initially designed as ‘legal highs’. Even though they were legal for a short period of time, they are not safe to use by anyone.
There are many kinds of NPS currently being used in New Jersey. One of the most popular is ‘spice’ or ‘K2’, a type of synthetic cannabis. The other is ‘bath salts’ which is a potent stimulant designed to mimic methamphetamine or cocaine. They are cheaper than the substances they are similar to and are highly addictive.
Because dealers frequently change the ingredients of these drugs to keep a step ahead of the law, it is hard to know what is in them. This can also make it harder to detox. One thing is certain – they can be much more dangerous than their illegal counterparts. In one month in 2017, 70 people in Newark had to be treated for spice overdose.
These substances are as physically and mentally addictive as illegal street drugs such as heroin or crack cocaine. Because of how new they are, there isn’t any long-term data on the effects of these drugs.
At Excel, we understand that using dangerous drugs is simply part of addiction. Although users are often very hard on themselves for their condition, we see someone who needs help. With the right support, it is possible to detox safely from synthetic drugs and recover from addiction.
This looks similar to herbal cannabis. It is usually dried green plant material. However, that is where the similarity ends. The chemicals in spice are designed to affect the same parts of the brain as cannabis, but they are much stronger. Whilst it is not possible to fatally overdose on cannabis, spice overdoses have been linked to several deaths.
According to the FDA, some of the other risks of synthetic cannabis are:
- Raised heart rate
- Violent behavior
- Suicidal ideation
- Increased blood pressure
Despite these dangers, synthetic cannabis is still very widely used in the United States. Worryingly, its previous legality meant that teens and young adults could obtain it easily. It is both physically and mentally addictive and has serious withdrawal symptoms, which make it very difficult to stop on your own.
Synthetic Cannabis Withdrawal
Synthetic cannabis has a very intoxicating effect, with users feeling like they are detached from reality. Tolerance develops quickly with regular use. This means that the user needs increasing amounts to feel an effect from it.
Spice affects the parts of the brain which are responsible for:
- Motor coordination
- Pain management
- The senses
Each of these functions is affected by spice, so each one is affected during withdrawal. The brain adapts to the chemicals from spice being constantly present in the bloodstream. It becomes used to spice helping to regulate its function. Suddenly quitting is a shock for the body – the brain cannot adapt that quickly, and users experience a rebound effect.
Physical Effects of Synthetic Cannabis Withdrawal
Symptoms of spice withdrawal are similar to cannabis withdrawal. However, they can be more severe.
Some of these include:
- Chest pain
Some of these withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening. This is why a medically supervised detox must be given to those smoking synthetic cannabis. Many of the physical symptoms can be treated with medication. Some of the most widely used medications are anti-seizure drugs, antiemetics to stop vomiting, and sleep-aids.
Mental Symptoms of Synthetic Cannabis Withdrawal
Synthetic cannabis has a powerful effect on mood, emotion, and how users perceive the world. When users suddenly stop taking the drug, they can experience a range of negative mental effects.
- Lack of motivation
- Lowered cognitive function
- Unstable emotions
- Suicidal thoughts
- Intense cravings to use spice
These withdrawal symptoms come on in a matter of hours after the last dose of spice. Their sudden onset can be very unpleasant for users. Outside of a controlled environment, it is common for people to feel so overwhelmed they have no choice but to smoke more spice.
However, within a controlled environment, these symptoms can be managed.
Our detox specialists are experts in managing the mental side effects of spice withdrawal. They can prescribe medications that can counteract some of the symptoms. These can include sedatives and anti-psychotics. They will constantly monitor the client to make sure their health is not at risk during the detox process.
Because no two batches of spice contain the same chemicals, it is impossible to give a definite timeline for withdrawal. Effects can start as quickly as an hour after use and last for several weeks. Usually, the effects peak within three days and should subside after two to three weeks.
When people take bath salts, they experience a brief ‘high’. This is very pleasurable – the brain releases huge amounts of chemicals that tell the body we are doing something good. However, this is not sustainable. This chemical ‘high’ doesn’t last long and can leave users feeling worse than when they started.
This is when people are tempted to take more bath salts to keep from feeling the ‘low’. With time, the brain gets used to constantly being stimulated by bath salts. It becomes less sensitive to these reward chemicals and requires increasing amounts of the drug to achieve the same effect.
Bath Salts Withdrawal Symptoms
If bath salt use is stopped abruptly, it is a shock to the system. The brain no longer produces enough of these reward chemicals, and users feel depressed. They start to experience a range of symptoms similar to the effects of cocaine or methamphetamine withdrawal.
These can include:
- Lack of energy
- Reduced memory
- Intense cravings to use more bath salts
Because bath salts only work for a short amount of time, users enter withdrawal within a few hours. The most extreme effects of the withdrawal peak at around 48 hours after the last dose – and this is when users can feel the most uncomfortable. The effects start to decrease by the end of the first week, and by two weeks, there should only be residual effects remaining.
When we have depleted our ‘reward’ chemicals, we feel terrible. Users typically find it hard to enjoy anything, as the chemical signals we use to communicate simply aren’t there. The obvious temptation during this period is to use more bath salts. Therefore, medical detox is the ideal setting for successful bath salts withdrawal.
Users are removed from their environment, which limits their access to the drug. They are made accountable, and our team are experts at giving advice and dispensing appropriate medication.
How Is Bath Salts Detox Treated?
No substitute drugs can be given for bath salts. Users can, however, be given medication which will reduce the severity of the detox symptoms. This means that users suffer less, which increases the chances of successfully completing detox.
These drugs can include sleeping aids and sedative tranquilizers. It is also common for users to display signs of psychosis when using bath salts. Our team are experts in diagnosing whether this is a long-term problem that the user self-medicated for, or a short-term problem directly caused by bath salts. In either instance, it is possible to manage these symptoms with medication.
LONG TERM RECOVERY FROM SYNTHETIC DRUGS
Detox is one of the most important parts of recovery. It allows users to break the cycle of dependence and addiction and see the world with a clear-headed perspective. Unfortunately, addiction is a deep-seated issue, and recovery requires hard work and maintenance to be successful.
The first few months following detox can be tough for users. After the chaos which accompanies synthetic drug addiction, it can be hard to return to ‘everyday life’. This is where the benefit of a treatment program is apparent.
It is advised that people move straight from the detox facility into one of our bespoke care programs. We carry out an in-depth assessment, which we then use to tailor a recovery program to suit your requirements. We aim to help our clients understand what drives their addiction, and we show them how to overcome it. This is done through a mix of group, one-to-one, holistic, and family therapy.
We offer both outpatient and partial-care programs and treat each client as an individual. Long-term recovery from synthetic drugs is possible with the right support.
The Excel Treatment Center is proud to be partnered with licensed detoxification facilities equipped to treat patients for synthetic drug detox. They provide a personalized level of care that caters to each patient’s unique needs. These facilities are professional, safe, and insurance friendly.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to us at (973)-989-7500 to receive a referral to one of these detoxification facilities.