K-2, Spice and Synthetic Marijuana – Epidemic

By: Rachael On: 10-20-2012 Category: Addiction Treatment, Drug Rehab

Synthetic marijuana, often sold as K2 or Spice, is a potentially lethal drug that is currently legal and sold at head shops and over the internet all over the world.  I have been in the addiction treatment for over 13 years and have never seen such a devastating drug as K2/Spice.  When I was working at one treatment facility, there was a Spice/K2 epidemic and at one time over 50% of the clients at this treatment facility were smoking Spice/K2.  I confiscated pounds of the drug from patients and after each time I asked the patient what the effects of the drug were like and they said that it felt just like marijuana but more powerful.  I also noticed that patients coming off of the drug experienced horrible side effects.

SIDE EFFECTS OF K2 and SPICE:  What to look for:

From direct observation and interviews I have found that after the effects of SPICE/K2 wear off,  the person experiences extreme agitation.  They appear to have a hangover.  They are visibly sick.  In fact, uncharacteristic agitation is one of the telltale signs that a person is using SPICE/K2.  After a while, it was easy to tell which patients had smoked SPICE/K2 the night before.  It is also visibly noticeable when a person is on Spice/K2.  The person will look high.  Because the drug is so powerful, the effects are hard to mask.

At one point during the SPICE EPIDEMIC one of our staff members, who did not have a history of drug or alcohol abuse, decided to try SPICE and see what it felt like.  One weekend night he smoked the drug and reported back to me that the drug caused him to feel “extremely messed up.”  This staff member had smoked marijuana before and said that it was much more powerful than any marijuana he had smoked in the past.


Just a few months ago, the first labs in the United States developed a test for SPICE/K2.  Redwood Labs can test urine for the presence of SPICE/K2 in urine, but the test has to be requested.  Developing a relatively cheap and effective test for SPICE/K2 was the first dent in the growing SPICE/K2 epidemic that few knew about at the time.  Previously, only drug treatment facilities in the United States were aware of the growing problem of SPICE/K2.  Drug Rehabs were paralyzed for a couple years as they had no way of testing for the drug and the drug could be bought easily and cheaply.  I called the drug a Drug Rehab Killer at the time, because of its potency, availability and lack of tests to detect the presence of the drug in a person’s system.

SPICE/K2 continues to be a major problem for drug rehabs, parents and the United States, as long as it is legal.  There have been reported deaths related to K2/Spice.  SPICE/K2 does not produce the greatest high, in fact everyone I have interviewed over the years who has smoked it says they didn’t like the high it produced, and yet they continued to use it.  This of course is one of the signs that the drug is highly addictive.  Each time I caught patients smoking Spice they would swear to me that they never wanted to do it again, but they invariably would do it again.  I truly believe that the patients wanted to stop smoking Spice, because at the time I was providing immunity for patients who were using Spice.  I had no way to test for it and it could be easily purchased for little money, so at the time, I had to concede defeat.  Each patient who had smoked Spice wanted to stop smoking spice, but they soon found they could not stop.  That was when I realized the addictiveness of the drug.

Since becoming a self-educated expert on the drug Spice I have talked to numerous media reporters, parents and people struggling with this silently deadly drug.  I can already see the progression of this drug.  It is produced in China and once it is made illegal in the future, it will be sold on the black market and become a big money maker for illegally minded entrepreneurs.  If you or someone you know has a problem with SPICE, K2, or synthetic marijuana, please feel free to email me with any questions you might have.  If you have a son or daughter who is on the drug, email me and I may be able to help.  brendanbickley@msn.com


Brendan Bickley, A.S., B.A., C.A.T.S., CADC II, CSS, ICADC, ICCS, PsyD (Intern)

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