Synthetic marijuana is a growing problem, and Sarasota synthetic marijuana rehab centers are dedicating to combating it. Although it's labeled not for human consumption, it's particularly popular among young people and marketed as a safe alternative to marijuana. Synthetic marijuana contains shredded plant matter with up to 100 different chemical additives chosen to produce mind-altering (psychoactive) effects similar to those produced by natural cannabis. Like natural marijuana it is most often smoked, but a liquid form is now also becoming popular.
The active chemical additives most often found in synthetic marijuana are designer (synthetic) cannabinoid compounds that have been classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration as Schedule I drugs, which are dangerous, controlled substances with a high potential for abuse and no medical benefits. This classification means it is illegal to possess, sell, or buy synthetic marijuana. Manufacturers of the drug try to work around the restrictions by substituting new additives, but the list of banned synthetic cannabinoids is constantly updated.
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The natural and synthetic drugs act on the same receptors in the brain, but some of the active additives in the synthetic drug bind more strongly to these receptors than tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main active ingredient in natural marijuana. This stronger binding can result in addiction. In many of the synthetic drugs some of the additives are unknown, and their effects are unpredictable.
Symptoms of people seeking emergency care from hospitals for synthetic marijuana use include violent behavior, confusion, hallucinations, nausea and vomiting, tremors, seizures, kidney failure, elevated blood pressure, rapid heart rate, and heart attack. Fatalities have been reported.
Synthetic marijuana is addictive and causes physical dependence, which produces withdrawal symptoms when the drug use is stopped. These symptoms include extreme nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, being unable to eat or drink, fatigue, insomnia, and difficulty concentrating. Regular use of the drug can cause heart palpitations, dehydration, seizures, anxiety attacks, profuse sweating, dizziness, slow speech, and kidney problems. In some cases catatonia has been reported, with the user unable to respond to verbal or physical stimulation.