Spice (K2) is a casual name given to a class of drugs known as ‘synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists,’ (SCRAs). These drugs are produced synthetically and are typically sprinkled onto a herbal material that looks similar to cannabis and can be smoked.
But now according to research published by psychologists at the University of Bath, ‘Spice’ which contains synthetic drugs originally designed to mimic the effects of cannabis is more dangerous than cannabis, and users are likely to experience more harmful withdrawal symptoms when attempting to quit.
During the study, over two-thirds (67%) of participants, who tried to give up Spice, reported that they experienced three main withdrawal symptoms after attempting to quit, including sleep issues, irritability, and low mood. This was significantly more terrible than for people trying to give up cannabis.
Only because of its ease of accessibility and to avoid detection on drugs tests, Spice is sometimes used as a substitute for cannabis or other drugs, particularly among homeless people or those in prison.
In this study, researchers from the Addiction and Mental Health Group at the University of Bath’s Department of Psychology asked a sample of participants who use both spice and cannabis to compare their consequences across different measures.
Their analysis was designed to indicate how likely a drug is to result in long-term harm, such as how worse withdrawal symptoms are, how long the effects last, and how quickly tolerance develops. Participants consistently rated the effects of Spice more harmful than cannabis. Even some participants also rated the withdrawal symptoms as more severe compared to cannabis which makes it harder for them to quit.
The study included 284 people, who previously tried to stop using Spice, making it the largest study conducted on Spice withdrawal and the first to compare the severity of symptoms with cannabis.
Sam Craft, lead author and Ph.D. student funded by the Medical Research Council, explained in a press release;
“Although originally produced as a legal alternative to cannabis, our findings show that it 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 it should be supported with treatment.”