The signs and symptoms of spice

RRV with blue lights

Synthetic cannabinoids, or ‘spice’ as they’re most commonly known, are man-made, mind-altering chemicals. They are included in a group of drugs called ‘new psychoactive substances’.

Manufacturers sell these products in herbal form so they can be smoked, or in liquid form so that they can be vaporised and inhaled through e-cigarettes. They are marketed under a wide range of brand names, including Spice, K2, Joker, Black Mamba, Kush and Kronic.

These synthetic cannabinoid mixtures have become less widely available as it is now illegal to sell, buy and possess them. However, manufacturers are trying to side-step these laws by changing the chemical formulas in their mixtures.

Synthetic cannabinoids are often misleadingly called ‘synthetic marijuana’ or ‘fake weed’, but can actually have a much more powerful effect on the brain. Please be aware of the signs and symptoms associated with their use, should you come across a patient who you suspect of having taken them.

Users have reported side effects such as:

  • elevated mood
  • relaxation
  • altered perception
  • symptoms of psychosis
  • extreme anxiety
  • confusion
  • paranoia

Symptoms of users who have required emergency treatment also include:

  • rapid heart rate
  • vomiting
  • violent behaviour
  • suicidal thoughts
  • raised blood pressure
  • reduced blood supply to heart
  • kidney damage

Use is also associated with a rising number of deaths. As it is an addictive substance, withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, anxiety, depression and irritability are common.

If you attend someone that is, or you suspect is, under the influence of one of these substances, you should monitor their vital signs (as with any patient), and treat symptoms in accordance with clinical guidelines.

Please remember that the Clinical Advice Line is available 24/7, on 07753 950843, if you need any support or guidance whilst on scene.

Published 24th April, 2017


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