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The professionals at the St. Elizabeth Healthcare Intensive Outpatient Program for Drug and Alcohol Treatment polled teen-age patients to determine the local popularity and prevalence of the illegal street drug known as “spice.” More than 75 percent of those polled admitted to using spice – many claiming they began smoking the substance to “cheat” drug screens required by their parents or court officials.

Though the substance appears to be more popular among younger users, patients in St. Elizabeth’s Adult Dual Diagnosis program also reported using spice. However, older users seemed to know more about how harmful the drug can be, so they tended to use the drug for shorter periods of time than younger patients.

What is it?
Typically, spice is a dried, shredded plant material that has been treated with what is presumed to be a number of mind-altering chemicals.

Different Name, Same Drug
There are several different “street names” for this threatening drug. Some of them are:

  • Spice
  • K2
  • Fake Marijuana
  • Skunk
  • Moon Rocks

Side Effects
Almost all users have reported intense “highs” from smoking spice as well as withdrawal, including headaches, extreme paranoia, increased fighting, disconnection to reality, and black-outs. Some users have said that the withdrawal was so difficult that they wanted and needed to continue using to manage the painful side effects.

Some of the more common symptoms that typically send users to local emergency rooms are violent seizures, debilitating headaches and light sensitivity.

Troubling, and sometimes lasting effects
At the St. Elizabeth Intensive Outpatient Program for Drug and Alcohol Treatment, we’ve seen firsthand how this substance can wreak havoc on the lives of those who use it. In some cases, users are left in a complete stupor by the drug, even to the point where it is necessary to relearn how to perform all of the standard activities of daily living.

In addition, recent studies indicate that spice abuse can lead to sudden, severe mental illness. And, in certain vulnerable users, such mental illnesses can become longterm.

What to do if you suspect spice use
If you suspect that someone you know is using spice, seek help as quickly as possible. In case of emergency, go immediately to your nearest hospital emergency department. In less urgent circumstances, please call the professionals at St. Elizabeth Healthcare Intensive Outpatient Program for Drug and Alcohol Treatment at (859) 301-5900.

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