What Is Spice?

Published: December 19, 2013
Dear What Is Spice?,
What is Spice and is it bad for you?

Dear What Is Spice?,

NIDA for Teens has an article, What Is Spice?, that gives detailed information on this drug. TeenHealthFX has outlined some of the information below:

“Spice” refers to a drug that is a mix of herbs that produces experiences similar to marijuana. They contain dried, shredded plant material and manmade chemicals that cause mind-altering effects. Spice mixtures are marketed as “natural,” legal alternatives to marijuana, but are labeled “not for human consumption.” Because the chemicals used in Spice have a high potential for abuse and no medical benefit, the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) has made it against the law to sell, buy, or possess them.

Spice can affect the brain in the following ways:

  • Create relaxed feelings and changes in perception similar to what is experienced with marijuana use.
  • Spice use can result in extreme anxiety, paranoia, and hallucinations.
  • While this drug is new and not a lot is known about it, it is known that the chemicals found in Spice attach to the same nerve cell receptors as THC. However, the chemicals in Spice attach to the receptors more strongly, which could lead to stronger and more unpredictable effects.
  • Because the chemical composition of many of the products sold as Spice are not known, there is always the risk that it will contain substances that could cause problematic or unwanted effects. There is also concern this drug may contain heavy metal residues.  

Side effects of Spice can include:

  • Fast heart rate
  • Vomiting
  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Elevated blood pressure and reduction of blood flow to the heart
  • In a few cases Spice has been associated with heart attacks
  • Withdrawal and addiction symptoms

There is a still a lot of research that needs to be done in terms of getting a better understanding of how Spice affects the brain and what kind of short-term and long-term effects can occur. What we can say for sure is that there is potential for abuse, potential for problematic side-effects and no medical benefits of using this drug.

If you have any other questions or concerns, please speak to your doctor about it. If you don't have a doctor and live in northern New Jersey, you can call the Adolescent/Young Adult Center for Health at 973-971-5199 for an appointment with an adolescent medicine specialist or contact your local teen health center. You can also contact your insurance company for a list of in-network providers.