Muir Wood therapist, David Laing

Synthetic Marijuana Overdose

Synthetic marijuana has been around since the early 2000s, but the number of people abusing it has increased significantly in the past few years. The drug is growing in popularity among all age groups, but it has gained the most territory among teens and 20-somethings. In fact, new varieties of it are springing up with each passing year. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment stated that 75 percent of synthetic marijuana users are males, so it’s safe to say your son isn’t the only one.

What Is Synthetic Marijuana?

Also known as “K2,” “spice,” “Yucatan fire,” “skunk,” “herbal incense,” “moon rocks” and more, synthetic marijuana is a compilation of dehydrated herbs and spices. Sounds harmless, right? Think again. The “high” achieved from smoking or ingesting — via eating or drinking in infused liquids — comes not from the herbs themselves, but chemicals called cannabimimetics that are sprayed on to the dried leaves. These chemical concentrations, known to mimic the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), can vary greatly from one brand of fake weed to the next. This means potency can’t be confirmed prior to ingestion in many cases, which heightens the risk of overdose for many.

User Risks

Second in line only to natural marijuana, the synthetic form presents serious dangers. The American Association of Poison Control Centers states that the use of synthetic marijuana poses serious effects on one’s health, such as:

  • Hypertension
  • Increased and/or racing pulse
  • Psychotic episodes or intense hallucinations
  • Suicidal ideation or behavior
  • Tremors, muscle spasms and seizing
  • Nausea, with or without vomiting
  • Extreme irritability and restlessness
  • Paranoia and/or worry

Synthetic marijuana is not safer than its natural counterpart. It presents its own set of risks, and overdose is unfortunately a very common one. As more and more troubling health concerns stem from synthetic marijuana use, laws are being put into effect to attempt to regulate its use. Nonetheless, health concerns such as strokes in otherwise healthy people are too frequently the result of synthetic marijuana abuse.

The risks involved do not solely belong to the abuser either. Rather, the drug opens the gate for violent behavior from users than can take aim at almost anyone in the general public. Furthermore, there is a growing concern that the ability for synthetic marijuana to slide past the need for FDA regulations will send the wrong message to our nation’s youth — that the product is safe.


Earlier this year, TIME Magazine reported that nearly 120 people overdosed on synthetic marijuana in Texas during a one-week period of time. This news report comes as no shock when similar stories grace the media quite often now with reports of more than one overdose per hour at times. A report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration accounted for 11,406 visits to the emergency room in 2010 due to synthetic marijuana.

If you are, or someone you know is, using this drug, it’s important to know the signs of overdose. Violent behavior, seizures, coma, chest pain, repetitive hallucinations, and a sense that one might be dying have all been reported in cases of overdose.

Treatment for Synthetic Marijuana Abuse

Addiction to synthetic marijuana is a real thing. At Muir Wood, you will find a patient-oriented facility that can get your son back on track to a healthy and balanced life. There’s no reason for him to lose his way this early in life. Detox and rehabilitation aren’t the only steps to recovery — they’re merely a part of it. Our outpatient treatment programs combined with family therapy sessions have proven to be successful time and time again. We’re ready to help you heal your family; the process starts with your call.