Also known as “spice” and “black mamba” among other street names, K2 drugs are a type of synthetic cannabinoid that has been used recreationally since the mid-2000s but are highly addictive. K2 drugs can be sprayed onto dried plants and then smoked like marijuana, or vaporized using e-cigarettes, vapes, and similar devices.
Although synthetic cannabinoids are marketed as a safe alternative to marijuana, they are anything but. Synthetic cannabinoids can be up to 100 times stronger than natural cannabis and have more detrimental side effects. K2 drugs are illegal and are classified as New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), part of a group of drugs that were previously unregulated but are now recognized as harmful substances with a high potential for abuse.
K2 drugs bind to cannabinoid receptor cells in the brain even more intensely than THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. There are numerous cannabinoid receptor cells in the human brain, which are responsible for regulating the brain’s stress response.
Smoking or inhaling synthetic cannabis induces powerful feelings of relaxation and euphoria, leading people to take higher or more frequent doses to experience a similar high. Synthetic cannabis is very addictive and people will experience unpleasant side effects if they stop using once a habit has been formed or lower the dosage or frequency of use, creating a cycle of dependency.
Effects of Using K2
Although K2 has euphoric side effects, it is an extremely dangerous drug. Many people are sensitive to the chemical composition of synthetic cannabis which may also be unknowingly combined with lethal substances, leading to fatal overdoses.
Because synthetic cannabis is stronger than marijuana, it can wreak even greater havoc on the brain, leading to detrimental side effects including paranoia, anxiety, psychosis, hallucinations, and brain damage. Physical side effects may include dry mouth, heart attack, stroke, seizures, kidney damage, chest pain, numbness, confusion, and even death.
Detox & Withdrawal
Detoxing from K2 drugs can be very dangerous and requires medical supervision. Withdrawal symptoms include intense drug cravings, irritability, anxiety, psychosis, high blood pressure, and severe nausea, to name a few.
Medication-assisted treatment is often used to address these physical and psychological symptoms and to help get people through the detox process as safely as possible. Long-term recovery from an addiction to synthetic cannabis requires a therapeutic intervention which may include different kinds of psychotherapy and trauma-based therapies.
Does synthetic cannabis have any health benefits?
No. K2 drugs are Schedule I drugs, which means that they have a high potential for abuse and have not been approved for any kind of medical use.
Where does K2 come from?
Synthetic cannabinoids were originally created in a laboratory when scientists wanted to understand how THC affected the brain.
Why are K2 drugs so dangerous?
Because they are much stronger than natural cannabis, have life-threatening side effects, and can be laced with other dangerous chemicals or substances, including rat poison and synthetic opioids like fentanyl.