By Leanne Simmons
A TYPE of synthetic cannabis is now being compared to heroin because of its dangers.
The drug, dubbed “Spice”, works on the same receptors that cannabis does, but the effects can be much worse and extreme.
Ben Holden, 35, substance use worker at Forward Leeds said: “Its negative effects include anxiety, paranoia, vomiting, seizures, passing out, and in rare cases heart attack and organ failure.
“The drug can cause psychosis, and people can become extremely dependant very quickly and have severe withdrawal symptoms described as bad as, if not worse than, heroin.
“The homeless and prison population that are maybe using this drug can be at a higher risk, as they are trying to escape the harshness and boredom by using this highly dangerous and addictive drug.”
One homeless Spice user, who didn’t want to be named said: “I use it when it’s available, it’s cheap, strong and it gets me wasted. It’s not my first drug of choice but I will try anything, I don’t care, but I’m embarrassed to say I use it, it’s worse than crack and heroin.”
The drug was classified as a Class B under the Misuse of Drug Act in December 2016, which means illicit production has been pushed underground.
Spice is now widely available on the black market and is being sold by street dealers at a fraction of the price of drugs like heroin but users are experiencing similar highs.
A spokesperson from Sheffield Drug and Alcohol Coordination Team said: “We are aware that a number of people have become ill after taking the current supply of the drug Spice and experiencing the loss of control and volatile behaviour after using the drug, the drug can kick in very quickly after use.”
Leon Milk, 35, an addiction and mental health worker, said: “These types of drugs are frequently diluted to maximise profit, with an array of truly unknown harms.
“Until we start to treat our county’s relationship with substances like Spice with less fear, we could be in for a long battle ahead to help addicts.”
Coun Nickie Aiken, head of Westminster Council said: “I’m calling on the Government to reclassify Spice as a Class A drug due to its devastating impact amongst vulnerable rough sleepers, and along with the police I believe we need to go even further to highlight the dangers that are associated with this drug.”
Stephanie Chivers – a habit and addiction specialist speaks out about the use of the drug Spice:
- The majority of Spice that used to be on the market was made up and pre-packaged as a branded product, which could be bought from shops before it was made illegal.
- Spice was originally sold as a similar drug to cannabis and it was classed a legal high, which led to the public perception that the drug was safe to use.
- The drug is supposed to include a non-psychoactive dried plant that has been dipped in to a range of synthetic cannabinoids. It can also be sprayed to make it have a more potent smell.
- The cost of spice is approximately £25 for three grams or around £10 for one gram.
- Due to the drug being so potent, the doses are much lower than that of natural cannabis to get high, meaning the user doesn’t need to buy as much – resulting in lower prices.
- The drug is administrated by being smoked, it is often mixed with tobacco and made into joints or put in bongs and pipes.