Study warns synthetic cannabis alternative 'spice' has worse withdrawals

The synthetic drug known as spice ("K2") is designed to mimic the effects of cannabis; it was presented as a legal alternative to the largely illegal substance, but things have changed. Many studies have found that spice often has many different and more dangerous effects compared to marijuana, which is now legal in many states. The latest study finds that it is also harder to kick a spice habit.

Spice, due to its risky nature, is now an illegal substance in some states. The reason, according to health officials, is that, unlike cannabis, no one knows exactly what is in spice — the 'recipe' can vary from brand to brand and potentially include risky compounds.

According to the University of Bath, more than half of people who use spice experience worse withdrawal symptoms when compared to those who quit using cannabis. Of the study's participants, 67-percent reported experiencing three or more withdrawal symptoms, among them being low mood, sleep problems, and irritability.

The researchers describe these symptoms as "significantly" worse than cannabis withdrawal symptoms; the symptoms appear when someone suddenly stops taking the substance after chronically using it for long periods of time. Compounding the matter may be the quicker development of tolerance to spice, leading to the use of higher doses sooner than one would experience with cannabis.

In talking about the findings, the study's lead author Sam Craft said:

Although originally produced as a legal alternative to cannabis, our findings show that Spice is a far more harmful drug and people attempting to quit are likely to experience a range of severe withdrawal symptoms. It's therefore important that greater effort is made to ensure that Spice is not used as a substitute for cannabis, or any other drug, and people experiencing problems with Spice should be supported with treatment.