Synthetic cannabinoids, often sold as Spice or K2, are man-made substances that are misleadingly marketed as a safe alternative to marijuana, but these drugs can have dangerous consequences. A growing national health concern, 11% of high school seniors used a synthetic cannabinoid in 2011, which makes Spice abuse second only to marijuana amongst adolescents 1.
Like other drugs, repeated Spice use can lead to addiction, and those who try to quit using Spice may experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Spice withdrawal symptoms may make it difficult to quit using the drug without professional help. Professional Spice detox and substance abuse treatment services can help to ensure successful long-term recovery.
This article will provide you with the following information about Spice:
- Spice withdrawal syndrome.
- Spice withdrawal timeline.
- Protracted withdrawal symptoms.
- Withdrawal treatment options.
- Withdrawal medications.
- Aftercare options.
- Finding treatment.
Spice Withdrawal Syndrome
Long-term Spice abuse can lead to addiction, a chronic condition that causes significant impairment and distress in a user’s life. Someone suffering from a Spice addiction is unable to control their use despite negative consequences. When someone who is addicted quits using Spice or dramatically reduces their dose, they are likely to experience a series of uncomfortable symptoms as part of the Spice withdrawal syndrome.
Because synthetic cannabinoids can be made with a variety of different chemicals, withdrawal symptoms may vary. Withdrawal symptoms may manifest differently in different users, but some common symptoms include 2,3:
It can be challenging to quit Spice on your own because Spice withdrawal symptoms can greatly impair a user’s life and contribute to relapse. Fortunately, detox services exist to provide you with care and support while the drug is eliminated from your body. If you or someone you care for needs help overcoming Spice addiction or if you have drug abuse questions, call one of our helpful treatment support specialists at 1-888-241-8971 .
How Long Does Withdrawal Last?
As previously stated, Spice withdrawal symptoms and timeline can vary depending on the specific chemicals used.
Spice withdrawal symptoms tend to be similar to cannabis discontinuation. Symptoms generally begin within 24–72 hours, peak within a week, and subside after 1 or 2 weeks. Insomnia may last longer than a month and withdrawal symptoms are stronger among adults 4.
Protracted Withdrawal Symptoms
A post-acute or protracted withdrawal syndrome, also known as PAWS, may occur after the acute effects of Spice withdrawal are resolved. These symptoms can persist for months or even years and can resemble mental health disorders, such as mood and anxiety disorders 5. Not all users experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms; the extent of drug use and individual physiology influences how these symptoms manifest.
Some of the common symptoms of PAWS include 5,6:
- Spice cravings.
- Sleep problems and strange dreams.
- Feelings of anxiety or panic attacks.
- Problems with learning, memory, and problem solving.
- Obsessive-compulsive behaviors.
- Increased sensitivity to stress.
Treatment for Spice Withdrawal
The symptoms of Spice withdrawal—both acute and protracted—can be intense and threaten any recovery efforts. Fortunately, detox programs employ skilled treatment professionals with extensive skill and experience in guiding recovering patients through the withdrawal process, minimizing troubling withdrawal symptoms, and maximizing the chances of long-term recovery.
Short-term drug detox, a crucial first step towards recovery, aims to manage any complications to arise during withdrawal. A professional detoxification protocol can minimize discomfort while the last traces of drug gradually leave the body. After detoxing from Spice, transition to a substance abuse treatment program typically follows. Treatment for Spice addiction often combines the benefits of both individual and group therapies. It involves medical and psychiatric care and relapse prevention.
Treatment is available in a variety of settings and each program has its own benefits. Addiction treatment options include:
- Inpatient treatment programs: These residential programs require that you live at the facility for the duration of treatment, which typically ranges from 28 to 90 days.
- Outpatient treatment programs: These programs provide you with the freedom to live at home and still work or go to school while attending treatment one or a few days per week.
- Luxury treatment programs: Upscale inpatient facilities that closely resemble a resort or vacation and offer comfortable amenities, such as spa treatment, massage, and gourmet meals.
- Executive treatment programs: Executive treatment offers similar upscale facilities to luxury programs but caters to working professionals who wish to continue working while receiving addiction treatment.
- Holistic treatment programs: Alternative and complementary interventions are offered at holistic treatment facilities to heal the mind, body, and spirit. Examples include yoga, meditation, and creative arts therapy.
- 12-step programs: Fellowship programs, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA), are free to join. The only requirement is that you want to stop using Spice and other substances. Many people benefit from the support and encouragement they receive from their peers.
- Population-specific treatment: There are some programs that have extensive experience in treating specific populations, such as veterans, LGBT, teens, men-only, and women-only.
If you’re looking for addiction treatment, call our helpline at 1-888-241-8971 to speak to a treatment advisor about rehab options.
Medications Used in Detox
There are currently no FDA-approved medications for the treatment of marijuana or Spice withdrawal, but some medications for the treatment of marijuana addiction are being researched 7. Buspirone, an anti-anxiety drug, Ambien, a sleep aid, and Neurontin, an anti-epileptic medication, have all shown promising results in alleviating certain withdrawal symptoms.
More research is being conducted on medications that attach to cannabinoid receptors in the brain and prevent marijuana from producing its rewarding effects 7.
Unfortunately, relapse is common amongst those in recovery from substance abuse, but there are preventative measures you can take, including aftercare. Aftercare consists of any ongoing treatment following the completion of your initial recovery program. Aftercare programs and services exist to reinforce all the hard work you put into overcoming Spice addiction. Some various aftercare options include:
- 12-step programs: Many people benefit from the supportive, sober environment of 12-step meetings.
- Non-12-step programs: Alternative programs, such as SMART Recovery, use evidence-based practices
- Individual therapy: Attending individual therapy sessions can help you to build upon the coping skills you developed during rehab.
- Group counseling: A trained substance abuse specialist facilitates a group counseling session in which you learn to utilize sober social skills.
- Sober living home: Halfway houses provide you with a residential, long-term safe place to combine self-management and vocational training with the goal of obtaining a permanent and productive drug-free life.
Get Help Today
Spice addiction is a serious health issue, and professional detox and treatment can help you obtain and maintain long-term sobriety. Call 1-888-241-8971 to speak to a treatment support specialist about addiction treatment options.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (2013). Synthetic Marijuana Lands Thousands of Young People in the ER, Especially Young Males.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (2015). Drug Facts—Synthetic Cannabinoids.
- Tai, S. and Fantegrossi, W.E. (2014). Synthetic Cannabinoids: Pharmacology, Behavioral Effects, and Abuse Potential. Current Addiction Reports 1(12): 129-136.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2015). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association.
- The University of California at Los Angeles: UCLA Dual Diagnosis Program (2016). Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS).
- U.S. Substance Abuse and Health Services Administration (2010). Substance Abuse Treatment Advisory: Protracted Withdrawal.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (2016). Marijuana.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (2014). Drugs, Brains and Behavior: The Science of Addiction: Treatment and Recovery.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (2012). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research Guide.