Around the end of March of this year, 2018, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported that there were 50 cases of severe bleeding linked with the use of synthetic cannabinoids in that state, including two cases where patients died.
The synthetic drug which is referred to as fake weed, spice, or K2 consists of a combination of hundreds of different chemicals. This makes it very difficult to determine what the user has smoked or consumed.
The drug is produced and sold as a cannabinoid product because it acts on the same receptors in the brain as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) does which is the main active ingredient in cannabis. According to the IDPH, synthetic cannabinoids have unpredictable side effects and can even be life-threatening to the user.
The perception around synthetic cannabinoids is that they are a legal and safer alternative to cannabis but many of the products that are available are actually illegal and can cause severe health-related problems.
Adverse Effects of Fake Weed
The symptoms of synthetic cannabinoids, or fake weed, that was reported by the IDPH included:
- Bleeding from the ears or eyes.
- Coughing up blood.
- Blood present in the urine.
- Bleeding from the nose.
- Bleeding from the gums.
- Increased menstrual flow in women.
In general, synthetic cannabinoids are chemicals that are sprayed on plant material that is dried and these can then be smoked or converted into liquids that can be ‘vaped’ in electronic cigarette devices.
In the cases of the patients that suffered from episodes of bleeding, the blood samples taken from them showed that they had warfarin present in their bloodstream. Warfarin is an anticoagulant drug that is used in patients who have an increased propensity for developing blood clots or who are diagnosed with this problem. The medication is used to break up these clots by reducing the clotting factors in the bloodstream. Therefore, individuals who do not have any problems with increased clotting issues will develop a bleeding disorder if they consume or inhale warfarin.
Warfarin is also the main ingredient in older versions of rat poison.
The Problem with Synthetic Cannabinoids
The biggest problem concerning synthetic cannabinoids is the ease of availability of the product and that is can be purchased from virtually anywhere. The products can be found in:
- Convenience stores.
- Drug paraphernalia shops.
- Gas stations.
- Novelty stores.
- Online stores.
Pacific Bay Recovery
Pacific Bay Recovery is a top drug and alcohol rehabilitation center that specializes in programs to help patients suffering from substance use disorders.
The services offered by the rehabilitation facility include:
- Inpatient programs for withdrawing patients from offending drugs as well as psychology, and occupational therapy sessions.
- Psychiatry consultations for those who have any underlying mental health conditions.
- Group therapy sessions for patients to help them relate to others with similar issues as them.
- Outpatient programs for those who are assessed as being able to benefit from such a service.
The healthcare professionals at Pacific Bay Recovery help patients to discontinue using offending drugs in order to reduce health-related complications that may occur as a result of drug or alcohol use and to improve their social and occupational situations at home and work.