Though commonly considered synthetic marijuana, the term “spice” actually refers to a variety of herbal mixtures made with plant material and chemical additives. Spice products, such as K2, claim to deliver effects similar to the natural high of cannabis. But, should a man-made synthetic drug really be compared to an organic plant?
One recovering addict is speaking out on the many misconceptions of spice. Amy Williams strongly believes that spice is far more dangerous than marijuana, and she has the chilling stories to prove it. Here is our one-on-one interview with the 22-year-old student.
- Q: When did you first hear about spice?
- A: I was twenty years old and roughly three months out of rehab for a Xanax addiction. My father had told me he was going to continue drug testing me, though he never actually followed through. I was told that spice was just like weed; natural with no side effects and a great, instant high. I was told that the taste was bad but that I would get used to it. When I tried it, the high was really good. I enjoyed that it happened instantaneously. I didn’t have to wait for it or smoke a lot.
Spice & Teens
Spice has become increasingly popular with teens and young adults in America. According to NIDA, 11.4 percent of high school seniors admitted to using spice in 2011. The surge is partly due to the convenience, as spice is sold at neighborhood gas stations across the country.
- Q: Where did you buy it? Did the substance vary?
- A: I never bought it myself, well not at first. My friend would purchase it from a local gas station and we would spend about $40 every trip. We would go every other day or so, and the spice would change from time to time. There are different types that would come through but the high was similar. Some were stronger, others were weaker. This is before we met a real supplier and became the dealers ourselves. We would sell a normal gram for five dollars and a double whipped gram for ten dollars. This makes it extremely affordable, much more affordable than marijuana at least, which usually goes for twenty dollars a gram.
- Q: Describe your first experience with spice.
- A: I honestly can’t remember my first high. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention, maybe I just can’t remember, but the fact is I’m sure I loved it. I smoked it in a glass pipe but we would occasionally smoke it in bongs or blunts. Bongs had a greater effect because they produce a more concentrated hit. In fact, the one time I overdosed it was after I had hit a bong.
- Q: It’s a common assumption that spice is similar to marijuana. Is that true?
- A: I get rather angry when people compare Marijuana and Spice. The two are about as similar as Marijuana and Crack. There really is nothing similar about the two drugs and honestly I think it’s dangerous to continue calling them similar. There are many different forms of the spice.The process of making it consists of taking the powder form and spraying it over the herb. The powder itself we called “crack powder.” When making this drug the powder would condense at the bottom of the pan creating what we called “pan scrapings” or the nickname, “crack rocks.” We called it that because of the potency. By this time all of our tolerance was very high to the drug. We had two different options that we sold. Single whipped, which is spice sprayed once. Then there was double whipped, which was doused twice with the chemicals.
This isn’t the normal stuff sold to the public in package form, which is why we were so successful in creating our empire. In my head it was safer because I knew who made it and I knew what the potency was and the chemical was always the same. This created a problem because my tolerance grew and the addiction was impossible to get out of because the supply was always there.
I was apparently rocking back and forth, which is common with overdoses on spice. I was incoherent and I felt like I was fighting something. I was fighting to get control of myself. I kept telling the two people I was with that I loved them. It was very important for them to know that because I thought I was going to die.
- Q: What are the worst side effects you experienced from spice?
- A: I think my worst experience with spice was when I overdosed. I had lost complete control of myself. I was apparently rocking back and forth, which is common with overdoses on spice. I was incoherent and I felt like I was fighting something. I was fighting to get control of myself. I kept telling the two people I was with that I loved them. It was very important for them to know that because I thought I was going to die. My chest felt like it was caving in and I was shaking violently.When I saw the EMTs coming up the stairs, I remember thinking: “oh hell no, I am not going to the hospital.” I was thinking of the cost and of the negative reaction from my father, not of my own health. They began asking me simple questions and I was unable to answer where I was exactly, though I knew that the drive there was long and pretty. I did not know my age or my name at first but slowly things came back to me. My friend gave me some water and things started to clear up. I was able to convince the EMTs that I was fine and they ended up leaving.
I told my friend that I wanted to sleep. When I woke up I thought I had dreamed the whole experience and I told him as much. He explained that it had really happened and I realized that was why I felt so exhausted. You know that feeling when you are mentally exhausted after a serious emotional upheaval? Well that was how I felt, but I also felt physically drained, like I had run a marathon. My friend was fresh out of surgery and had a bottle of Vicodin. I took two of those and was able to numb the pain I felt. I don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t have that.
We watched each and every one of our friends go through what we called a “freak out.” We discovered through trial and error that the overdoses had to do with dehydration, not the quantity or quality of spice. We learned this due to the fact that water was the best “treatment” when we first saw the initial signs of someone losing control. The initial signs were a loss of motor control followed by a loss of physical control. Usually, the episode would last between five and twenty minutes depending on the level of dehydration and the concentration of the spice.
- Q: Did you become addicted to spice? How many times per day were you using?
- A: The addiction was sudden but it wasn’t at the same time. In order to stay high you have to smoke every three hours or so. The high doesn’t last that long but you don’t start fiending for more until you hit the three hour mark. This makes it so you don’t notice right away that you can’t eat without smoking. Or that you can’t sleep without it either. It’s not until it’s too late when you realize that your body is waking you up every three to four hours to get high. The sleep after smoking spice is wonderful. It knocks you out which is a blessing to anyone with insomnia, like myself. You can time travel with it. Days go by and you don’t really notice because when you’re conscious you can take a hit and be in a different state of mind, or quickly go back to sleep. Eventually, all you think about is not running out, and when you do everything shuts down. It’s impossible to eat because everything tastes like cardboard and most of it comes back up, violently.
He had hit a pipe and tried to walk to the bathroom where he collapsed onto all fours and began throwing up everywhere. He then tried to literally climb up the walls…his eyes rolled in the back of his head.
- Q: Can you share one of your worst memories involving spice?
- A: See the above for my own personal story, but I think one of the scariest episodes was when I watched my friend go through his “freak out.” I had just come home after an extremely stressful week to find my friends in a panic because my friend was lying unconscious on the floor. This was one of our first experiences with an overdose and none of us really knew what was going on. Apparently, he had hit a pipe and tried to walk to the bathroom where he collapsed onto all fours and began throwing up everywhere. He then tried to literally climb up the walls. When my other friend tried to contain him he began fighting back aggressively, screaming about how we were all going to die. His eyes rolled in the back of his head and he collapsed into a shaking fit until finally he became unconscious. He came to in the ambulance but was still taken to the hospital where they pumped him with fluids. He couldn’t remember the majority of the attack, but it definitely left its mark on us. Not that it made us quit for long, nothing ever did.
- Q: Are you still using spice today?
- A: No, I am not still using spice today but I think about it daily. If it were in front of me I still don’t think I have enough self-control to say no. I have tried multiple times to quit and each time lasted no longer than a week. This time I have remained sober for about a month. It feels so awkward, sobriety, like I’m an alien in my own skin. I have no concept of what normality is anymore and honestly I rather hate what I’m feeling these days. I know I’m doing the right thing, but I can’t help but miss feeling different. This normal life is going to take some getting used to. It’s hard to say no to heaven when your life is already hell.
- Q: What is the biggest misconception about spice?
- A: The biggest misconception about spice is that it is remotely comparable to marijuana. Both are drugs and both alter your consciousness, but so does crack. I think that this blasé attitude toward synthetic drugs will start killing kids soon; I have no doubt in my mind. It needs to be called what it is, a synthetic drug, not synthetic marijuana. There also needs to be some kind of education awareness going on. This drug is ruining lives and everyone from the police to the rehab centers refuse to acknowledge it for what it is.
- Q: Tips for someone who is thinking about using spice today?
- A: The obvious tip would be – just don’t put yourself in that situation. I know for a fact I should never try heroin because I would absolutely love it and I would become addicted to it. Marijuana is a personality addiction, not a physical one like spice is, and therefore it should be comparable to something truly dangerous to give the right idea and to give the right warning. I love this drug, to this day, and I wish I would have known better. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.
If you or someone you know is abusing synthetic herbal mixtures, consider looking for spice and K2 addiction treatment options in your area.
Amy Williams is a pseudonym for a 22-year-old female student in Indiana
Image Source: wikipedia.org