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What is Spice and why is it called the ‘zombie drug’?

The drug spice has been on the rise and causing waves of damage across the UK. There has been a huge increase in the drug’s use in Manchester and has resulted in violent bouts of vomiting, numerous hospital trips and, in some cases, fatalities. The Mirror reported that synthetic marijuana, Spice is transforming city centres into ‘real-life horror movies’ with users stumbling around, completely unaware of their surroundings. In this blog, we discuss what the Spice drug is and the effects it has on the body and mind.

What is the drug Spice?

Spice was accidentally discovered while searching for a new way of developing anti-inflammatory medication by a chemist, John Huffmann, at Clemson University in South Carolina, USA. Huffman declared the chemical, JWH-018, unfit for human consumption in 2008, however, it has slipped under the radar and is now being sold as a form of incense or plant fertiliser.

Dr Oliver Sutcliffe from Manchester Metropolitan University has tested the substance discovering that it is a 100% pure crystalline strain of synthetic cannabinoids, which is sprayed onto dried plant matter as part of a chemical solution to form Spice. Basically, the drug is a wide range of man-made chemicals intended to simulate the effects of the well-known psychoactive compound in marijuana named THC.

How does Spice affect your brain and body?

Seeing as this synthetic marijuana spice is a selection of manufactured chemicals you can almost guarantee that the effects it has on your brain and body are negative. Spice users have reported serious bouts of anxiety, excessive paranoia and seeing or hearing things.

Spice has only been used recreationally for a few years, therefore research and case studies into the long-term effects it has on the body and brain are almost non-existent. What we do know is that the chemicals found in this synthetic marijuana attach to the same nerve cell receptors as THC. However, the chemicals in Spice attach to the receptors more vigorously than THC, which leads to a much stronger and extremely unpredictable effect. Additionally, many of the substances in Spice are unidentified and are often being changed or altered by the creators in order to avoid the product becoming illegal.

People who have tried the Spice drug have also reported many unsavoury reactions in the body such as fast heart rate, headaches and vomiting, along with feeling confused and having suicidal thoughts.

Why is Spice referred to as the ‘zombie drug’?

Many people have reported sightings of people on Spice. In Manchester, there has been a huge outbreak of users, especially in the homeless community. Eye witnesses reported that Spice users were stumbling around completely unaware of their surroundings. They would stand in one position, head down, drunkenly swaying from side to side, akin to a zombie.

Police are urging people to stay away from the drug as more reports of hospital visits come rolling in. Spice has become a serious problem in the UK and has led to fatalities. Conner Eckhardt, 19, slipped into a coma after having one hit of the drug. He was declared brain dead in hospital and unfortunately lost his life. Connor’s parents have released images of his last few days in order to raise awareness about the serious effects of taking Spice.

If you are concerned about someone who may be taking Spice or another drug, or if you are worried about someone’s problematic relationship with alcohol, please contact Port Of Call today. We can help you to access the right addiction help at the right time, whether that is a detox, alcohol rehab or drug rehab, private rehab, or beyond. Take the first step today by speaking to one of our advisers for free on 0800 002 9010, send us an email to help@portofcall.com or get in touch via our contact form.

About the author: Alex Molyneux

Alex is our admissions team leader. Over the last 5 years he has spoken with more than 10,000 people via our helpline and has organised over 1,000 detox and rehabilitation placements.

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