Synthetic marijuana addiction affects nearly 30% of patients seeking treatment for marijuana addiction.
Because there are several forms of synthetic marijuana with various active ingredients, counselors must pay attention to treatment, as it will vary by patient. Individualized treatment is a must and fortunately provides much better results.
Many patients with an addiction to synthetic marijuana may be under the impression that synthetic marijuana is a better or smart alternative to natural marijuana.
It’s essential for counselors to educate patients while helping them kick the habit, provide support and act as a sounding board for frustrated addicts.
Educate the Patient On The Reality of Synthetic Drug Use
Many patients moved to synthetic marijuana because they believed it was healthier, more legal or less addictive than natural marijuana. In reality, the addiction rate is virtually the same and studies show spice, the street name for synthetic marijuana, is just as dangerous.
Alert patients to the fact that not all ingredients on synthetic marijuana packaging must be displayed to buyers. Because of this, they could be ingesting dangerous chemicals and ingredients that are actually more harmful to their health than conventional marijuana.
They believe because some spice is legal, the drug must be safe. For a short period of time, certain types of spice were legal and often sold at corner stores and gas stations. In fact, because the product was on store shelves, some people believed spice was safe to smoke. Later the Drug Enforcement Administration went through all spice sold at stores and classified the majority as a controlled substance thus spice illegal in the United States.
A substance abuse counselor should teach the patient that arrests due to spice are just as detrimental to their future. If the patient relapses and goes to jail or breaks parole, their record will read just as it would if they were caught with traditional marijuana. Make it clear that spice is no safer nor carries less of a criminal charge just because it’s synthetic. The patient runs the risk of being arrested, losing their job or being expelled from school.
Discuss Potential Health Issues
Health issues such as kidney disease and psychosis have been linked to synthetic marijuana. A full list of side effects can be found here.
Introduce Treatment Programs That Work
Encourage the patient to seek out a Marijuana Addicts Anonymous center near their home so they have a support group to reach out to if they feel they want to relapse.
The patient should also have a good relationship with their primary care physician and have at least two people they can speak with about their addiction once they are out of treatment.
Support is one of the most essential parts of successful recovery and a good counselor should map out what the patient must do to seek support when they feel on the edge.
If the patient does not have a good support system in place, then consider recommending them to a synthetic drug treatment program, either an inpatient rehab or outpatient program in their town.