Synthetic marijuana belongs to a class of drugs known as NPS, short for New Psychoactive Substances. There are many variants of synthetic marijuana, all based on the active ingredient in the Cannabis plant called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Because of their similarity to THC, these drugs are also known as synthetic cannabinoids.
Synthetic marijuana, just like its natural counterpart, is addictive. Treatment is possible, though. Read on to know what therapies are available to address this addiction.
What are the signs of addiction to synthetic marijuana?
Synthetic marijuana is a highly addictive class of drugs, as some studies report they are up to 600 times stronger than natural THC from Cannabis leaves. If you take it often, or in large doses, you can get addicted before you know it.
Getting addicted is also easier as synthetic marijuana can be easily bought. They are sold in novelty stores, gas stations, and over the internet. When sold, they go by different names like:
- Black Mamba
- Scooby Snax
They are so easy to buy that even teens can get their hands on them. They also mistakenly believe that because it’s easy to buy synthetic marijuana, it must be safe and legal to use it. However, this is not true. Synthetic marijuana is both illegal and unsafe.
Drug makers get around regulations by varying the chemical compositions of the drugs they make. Also, they label their products as “not safe for human consumption.” Again, this is not true, as users often ingest synthetic marijuana out of the packets.
Once you become addicted to these drugs, your behaviors, attitudes, and lifestyle will change significantly. You may exhibit any or all of the following signs:
- Strong, uncontrollable urges to take synthetic marijuana
- Being unable to stop using the drugs, even if you are aware of its harmful effects
- Strained relationships with your family, friends, or colleagues
- Neglecting your duties at work or school to make more time for drugs
- Putting your hobbies on a back seat to make more time for drugs
- Needing a higher dose of the drugs to get the same effects as before
- Experiencing uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms whenever you try to stop
Eventually, drugs will take over your life, and you can no longer live normally without them. Synthetic marijuana will be like food, becoming “necessary” for survival.
Withdrawal symptoms are particularly troublesome, as they will prevent you from quitting.
What are the withdrawal symptoms?
When you have developed a dependence on synthetic marijuana, you’ll find it hard to quit using it. When you try to stop, you will experience withdrawal symptoms, which is a consequence of your body trying to adjust to the sudden absence of synthetic marijuana. These symptoms are uncomfortable and annoying. They include:
- Intense cravings for the drugs
These symptoms are hard, if not impossible, to beat on your own. Therefore, most people who try to quit on their own end up failing. The best course of action would be to seek professional help, where you can go through a medically-facilitated detox process. This will both remove the drugs from your body and help you manage symptoms of withdrawal.
What are the treatments for synthetic marijuana addiction?
If you are suffering from an addiction to these drugs, you have hope for recovery. Several evidence-based treatments are effective in weaning you away from addiction and back into a sober lifestyle.
In most cases, recovery starts with a detox process, which aims to eliminate all traces of the drugs from your body. Medical professionals may be present to help you manage the withdrawal symptoms as well. After detox is over, you will be able to function even without taking any synthetic marijuana at all.
For best results, detox should be followed by a long-term rehab program, which consists mostly of behavioral and psychological therapies. These aim to address the root causes of the addiction and help you develop new coping mechanisms that would take the place of drug use.
Rehab programs can either be inpatient or outpatient. The best outcomes often come from inpatient rehab, where you will be living in a rehab facility for up to six months, depending on the severity of your addiction. During these months, you will undergo a variety of therapies designed to retrain your brain to move away from drug use.
The rehab facility provides the ideal environment for you to focus on your recovery journey. You will be away from environments and people that increase your chances of going back to drugs. Also, you would have help available every day at any time, so in case you have any problems, you can talk to a professional right away. The rehab facility will also be a place where you can socialize with other people who are also recovering from addictions. That would give you a sense of community, preventing feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Inpatient rehab may be a long process, but in the long run, it’s worth the time and effort. After rehab is over, you can go back to your normal life without the influence of synthetic marijuana. Many recovery programs also include aftercare, which are follow-up therapy sessions that you take after your stay in the rehab facility. These may also involve your family and close friends. Therapists will educate them and equip them with the skills they need to help you stay sober for the long term.
If your addiction is milder, then outpatient rehab may work well for you. In outpatient rehab, you do not have to stay in a rehab facility for months. Instead, you only have to go to the facility a few times a week for therapy sessions; after each one, you can go back home. Outpatient rehab is a lot more effective with help from your family and friends.
To know which kind of therapy will work best for you, talk to a recovery professional first. They will help you plan your treatment thoroughly.