potpourri drug addiction

It may be hard to image that products named “Mr. Happy” or “Scooby Snax” might actually be deadly.  But the brightly packaged “potpourri” that is commonly sold in convenience stores across the country, abused by youth seeking a cheap and accessible high, can absolutely be exactly that, deadly. Potpourri drug addiction, also known as Spice or K2, has claimed hundreds of lives since its debut in 2009.

What is Spice?

The material that makes up the pseudo potpourri or herbal incense drugs consists of dried crushed plants and herbs, appearing somewhat like marijuana.  In fact, the misnomer, “synthetic marijuana,” has been associated with this concoction because it is sprayed with synthetic cannabinoids from a catalogue of about 700 chemicals. In reality, Spice bears no resemblance to marijuana, as the chemicals used will bind to the cannabis receptors in the body about 1,000 times more powerfully than marijuana.  These products usually originate in China or Russia.

This potpourri, usually referred to as Spice, is a synthetic chemical compound, which, up until recently, was distributed as a pseudo-marijuana product packaged as incense or potpourri with cutesy names and sold for a few bucks at gas station convenience stores and head shops. Some of the chemicals used in Spice are cannabicyclohexanolJWH-018JWH-073, XLR-11, AKB4, JWH-18 and HU-210, in addition to several mystery ingredients, including stimulant and psychedelic derivatives. Also used in these chemical compounds are insect repellents, prescription drugs such as phenazapam, and fertilizer components.  In 2014, 177 different types of synthetic cannabinoids were detected in the products.

Why is Spice Still Available?

Spice is supposed to be illegal. Several states have banned the sale of Spice, and a federal law in 2012, entitled the “Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act” listed 26 synthetic cannabinoids and cathinones as Schedule 1 controlled substances.  The sad reality is that the producers of this class of drugs keeps changing the chemical compound used in them in order to stay one step ahead of the law. With literally hundreds of these chemicals to choose from, the combinations are endless, keeping the manufacturers one step ahead of the law.

Manufacturers of the potpourri type products also use deceptive practices to keep them on the shelves.  Packaging will tout the product as “natural and safe,” but also include a warning that it is not for human consumption, according to CDC spokesman, Royal Law, who was featured in a CBS News special warning parents about the dangerous trend.

How Dangerous is the Potpourri Drug Addiction?

Numerous cases of strokes, seizures, heart attacks, psychotic events, kidney damage, permanent cognitive impairment and dozens of deaths across the U.S. have been reported in the past two years due to the harmful effects of smoking these products.  In 2011 over 28,000 emergency department admissions were linked to Spice, according to statistics provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, with 78% of them involving young people aged 12-29.  In 2015 7,794 calls to poison centers were made, according to the CDC, due to these synthetic drugs charading as an alternative to pot.

The highly unpredictable adverse symptoms associated with Spice include:

  • Increased agitation
  • Profuse sweating
  • Pale skin
  • Spastic body movements
  • Extreme anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Delirium
  • Extreme lethargy
  • Agitation, violent behavior
  • Psychosis
  • Paranoia
  • Sense of detachment between brain and body
  • Suicidality
  • Reduced blood flow to the heart
  • Tachycardia
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Stroke
  • Severe kidney damage
  • Permanent brain damage
  • Death

Just one hit of Spice can result in permanent brain damage and loss of life.

Vaping With Spice

Sold with such names as “Cloud 9,” “Pumpkinol,”  “Car-o-Power,” and “Mad Hatter,” to name a few, liquid Spice feeds right into the vaping trend. Using electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs, young people are inhaling these dangerous chemicals in vapor form.  In many cases, the teens or young adults purchasing these liquid synthetic drugs are not even aware of what it is or what dangers these chemicals pose to their health.

Kids may be aware of the dangers of smoking the incense or potpourri versions of Spice, and don’t realize that these vaping liquids contain the same risks.  The liquids are openly available online, a common source for kids securing the product.  It is becoming evident that kids may be even more at risk for serious health consequences from the liquid version of Spice.  Vaping is easier than smoking the herbal product, and young people may be more prone to mixing different liquid varieties together, creating highly dangerous health risks.

Getting Treatment for Potpourri Drug Addiction

Whenever an individual uses a substance in order to experience a high, that thought and behavior pattern can lead to substance abuse and addiction.  At the very least, if the teen or young adult is prone to high risk exploration of various substances in search of the next “better” high, they are in need of professional intervention, sooner rather than later.  These types of drugs are far too dangerous to ignore the potential harm that can be done.

Treatment for addiction or addictive behaviors consists of various therapies that work together to help the individual learn to respond differently to the urge or craving to use drugs of any kind.  Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a favored psychotherapy model that is evidence-base, therefore has a proven track record for helping people to shift disordered thoughts and behaviors toward positive, healthy ones.  CBT is a short-term, goal-oriented therapy that is well-suited to addiction treatment.  CBT can be provided in both individual sessions and in group therapy format.

The Treatment Specialist Locates Rehabs for treating Potpourri Drug Addiction

The Treatment Specialist is a team of experts in the addiction and mental health fields that provides free treatment locator services for individuals struggling with drug abuse or addiction, including Spice.  The Treatment Specialist offers a free online assessment tool that can help them pinpoint the best treatment program for you or your loved one.  In addition, the specialists will also conduct a free insurance review.   For more information about getting treatment for a Spice addiction, contact The Treatment Specialist today at (866) 644-7911.

About the Author

The Treatment Specialist

The Treatment Specialist offers mental health information and treatment resources for adults, teens, and families. If you or your loved one is suffering and is in need of help, you’re not alone, call to receive guidance and support at 866-644-7911.

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