The term ‘Spice’ refers to some chemical formulations of synthetic cannabinoids, one of the types of designer drugs flooding the drug market. These substances are known for causing dangerous side effects, including physical dependence and addiction. Also referred to as synthetic marijuana and K2, this drug typically features a molecule or two that binds to cannabinoid receptors in the brain, mimicking some of the side effects of THC found in regular marijuana. For this reason, long-term K2 use can result in the development of physical dependence, which is best treated with Spice detox led by medical professionals.

Synthetic Marijuana’s Withdrawal Symptoms

While Spice and K2 were once legal formulations of synthetic cannabinoids, they were quickly banned by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) due to their dangerous side effects. However, manufacturers of these designer drugs often change the chemical makeup of the substances, which is sprayed onto dried plant material that looks similar to cannabis.

The material is then sold in foil packages labeled “incense,” “potpourri,” or “aromatherapy,” and they also often carry the label “Not for human consumption” to avoid legal detection. By using these labels and slightly changing the chemical formula, manufacturers make the drugs technically legal to import and sell, despite their dangers.

Because synthetic cathinones like Spice are constantly changing, there’s not much information available on the cycle of addiction or the nature of synthetic marijuana withdrawal symptoms. However, studies like a German study published in 2009 show that Spice addiction is possible, and the drug can also produce withdrawals when suddenly stopped or doses are cut back.

The study conducted by German researchers observed a man who reported K2 withdrawal symptoms after a long period of abuse. The study noted that the 20-year-old patient experienced the five criteria used to define drug addiction:1

  • A strong desire or need to consume the drug
  • Continued consumption despite knowing the consequences of abuse
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when the use of the drug is stopped or cut back
  • Needing to increase doses of the drug over time to feel the same effects
  • Neglect of other interests or obligations due to drug use (e.g., work, school, family, etc.)

The patient found that, due to long-term Spice use, he needed to increase his dose rapidly over time – up to 3 grams per day – which is 10 times the original dose. He abused Spice Gold, specifically, for eight months.

Common Spice withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Intense cravings
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Nightmares

According to the patient in the study, overcoming cravings for Spice Gold was the most difficult part of Spice withdrawal. However, once the man decided to receive care from medical professionals, withdrawal from K2 ended in about a week. However, the man reported unrest and insomnia on the eighth day of withdrawal, which contributed to more cravings for Spice.1

Doctors responsible for his medically supervised detox prescribed medications to ease this anxiety and sleeplessness, and after a month, he was able to stop taking these medications since his brain and body learned how to relax and sleep without drugs.1

K2 (Spice) Detox

Due to the unpredictable and intense side effects and withdrawal symptoms of K2, detox should be completed with the support of a medical team. Working with medical professionals such as doctors and psychotherapists can help individuals dependent on Spice safely detox and stay on track.

Patients who undergo Spice detox treatment at our rehab in Massachusetts are not only kept on a steady tapering schedule and monitored 24/7 by our medical team, but they may also receive medication (as needed) to alleviate the severity of symptoms. This will also help make their recovery as safe and smooth as possible. No matter how long you or a loved one has battled an addiction to synthetic marijuana, our Clearbrook rehab is here to help.

For more information about our Massachusetts substance abuse treatment, contact Clearbrook Treatment Centers today.


  1. NCBI – Withdrawal Phenomena and Dependence Syndrome After the Consumption of “Spice Gold”

Related Reading:

How to Tell if Weed Is Synthetic

Is Spice Really a Safe Alternative to Marijuana?