Signs, Symptoms & Effects of Teen Synthetic Marijuana Abuse

What is Teen Synthetic Marijuana Abuse?

Learn More About Teen Synthetic Marijuana Abuse

Depending on the teen you’re speaking to, synthetic marijuana may also be referred to as spice or K2. This manmade drug is both illegal and exceptionally dangerous to abuse. When consumed, adolescents may begin feeling detached from themselves and the environment around them, experience hallucinations or delusions, or feel a profound sense of euphoria. And since this drug was originally portrayed as a safe substance to misuse, many young people all over the country are falling victim to synthetic marijuana in life-changing ways.

If you have recently found out that your child is abusing synthetic marijuana, you’re probably wondering what you can do to help ameliorate this problem. If you’re in the process of seeking treatment, know that simply doing that research is a great first step to take to help your teen break free from this sort of addiction. Without treatment, your child is destined to remain at risk for a variety of detrimental effects that can include the need for involuntary hospitalization and even death. But if you’re working to be your teen’s greatest ally and seeking professional services for him or her, you’re making a choice to help your child realize a healthier future.


Statistics of Teen Synthetic Marijuana Abuse

Recent reports show that nearly 15% of all high school seniors have abused synthetic marijuana. Additionally, in 2010 alone, the number of young people requiring emergency medical care after abusing synthetic marijuana climbed to over 11,000. Male adolescents are more likely to abuse this powerful drug, as 14% of high school boys and about 8% of high school girls are believed to have abused synthetic marijuana at some point. Given these alarming numbers, it’s important for the word to spread about the dangers associated with this illicit substance.

Causes and Risks

Causes and Risk Factors of Teen Synthetic Marijuana Abuse

Your mind may be swirling with possible reasons for why your teen has chosen to abuse synthetic marijuana. To help you come to understand this type of substance abuse problem a little better, researchers have realized that the following may have contributed to a young person experimenting with and eventually abusing synthetic marijuana:

Genetic: There is a chance that your teen is genetically predisposed to struggling with substance abuse. Researchers have found that a propensity for substance abuse can be inherited from one’s parents if there is a family history of addiction. It could be helpful to think about your own family history to determine if your son or daughter’s genes may have influenced the onset of the abuse of drugs like synthetic marijuana.

Environmental: Synthetic marijuana is a drug that is often introduced to teens via their friends or others with whom they are close. This is an example of how your child’s environment can affect whether or not this substance will be abused. Additionally, if your teen lacks healthy self-esteem, effective skills for coping, or proper support from individuals around him or her, there is a higher risk that synthetic marijuana or other substances will be abused at some point in your child’s life.

Risk Factors:

  • Being male
  • Being of younger age
  • Family history of mental illness
  • Family history of substance abuse and addiction
  • Having a traumatic past
  • Lack of parental involvement during childhood
  • Living in poverty
  • Poor stress-management skills
  • Prior substance abuse, especially at an early age

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Teen Synthetic Marijuana Abuse

Some signs of synthetic marijuana abuse are obvious, while others are not. If you’re wondering if your teen is abusing this life-threatening drug, see if any of the following symptoms are present, consider the treatment options available to you, and seek professional help for your teen:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Bouts of unexplained anger or aggression
  • Deception regarding one’s actions and whereabouts
  • Declining performance at school
  • Frequent unexplained absences from school
  • Lack of attention to grooming and personal hygiene

Physical symptoms:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Higher than normal blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Muscle spasms
  • Nausea
  • Numbness in extremities
  • Watery eyes

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Confusion
  • Depersonalization
  • Disorientation
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Loss of interest in certain activities
  • Mood swings


Effects of Teen Synthetic Marijuana Abuse

Delaying the start of treatment for your teen can put him or her at risk for a number of consequences. Among the many, the following are the sort of adversities that young people have faced when they continue to abuse synthetic marijuana, and are those that could affect your child’s life as well:

  • Attempts at suicide
  • Brain damage
  • Cognitive impairments
  • Damaged peer relationships
  • Diminished performance at school
  • Family discord
  • Legal problems
  • Polysubstance abuse
  • Stroke
  • Suicidal ideation

Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-Occurring Disorders & the Complexity of Teen Synthetic Marijuana Abuse

All too often, young people, maybe even your own child, struggle with untreated and unmanaged mental health symptoms and resort to substance abuse as a means of escaping their pain. If this is the case for your teen, he or she can get treatment for his or her synthetic marijuana abuse problem and one or more of the following co-occurring conditions at the same time:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depressive disorders
  • Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)
  • Other substance use disorders
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Withdrawal & Overdose

Effects of Withdrawal and Overdose of Teen Synthetic Marijuana Abuse

Effects of synthetic marijuana withdrawal: Synthetic marijuana withdrawal happens when your teen is no longer under the influence of this drug and is his or her body’s way of readjusting to not having the drug within its system. The following effects are those that may become apparent if your adolescent child is struggling with synthetic marijuana withdrawal:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Cold flashes
  • Cravings for synthetic marijuana
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Hot flashes
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Vomiting

Effects of synthetic marijuana overdose: Since synthetic marijuana is far from harmless, you may need to interject yourself in a potentially life-threatening situation if your teen consumes too much of this drug. The below listed effects are what can happen if your teen ingests too much synthetic marijuana, are your red flags that an overdose is happening, and are your indicators that 9-1-1 needs to be called:

  • Cardiac arrest
  • Seizure
  • Respiratory distress
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Confusion
  • Coma
  • Disorientation
Our Client Experience

I got tired of regular weed, so I tried synthetic marijuana. When I noticed the effect it had on my physical and mental health, I had enough. After going through treatment at Greenleaf, I am now celebrating my first year of sobriety!

– Chad U.
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