Residential Synthetic Marijuana Addiction Treatment Centers in Southern California

Sober Living by the Sea offers trusted synthetic marijuana abuse treatment in Southern California. To better serve the individual needs of our clients, Sunrise provides gender-specific rehabilitation to deliver more successful recovery.

Understanding Synthetic Marijuana

Learn about synthetic marijuana and substance abuse

Synthetic marijuana, also commonly known as spice or K2, is a potent mixture of dried plant material and psychoactive chemicals that has been deceptively marketed as a “safe” alternative to natural marijuana. When ingested, synthetic marijuana binds to the same brain receptors as natural marijuana, producing similar effects: elevated mood, relaxation, and alterations of sensory experiences. However, synthetic marijuana use can also induce psychosis, paranoia, extreme anxiety, and confusion.

Although it has been advertised as being “safer” than natural marijuana, synthetic marijuana can actually be much more dangerous than its natural cousin, primarily due to the ever-changing nature of its chemical composition. In an attempt to stay one step ahead of drug enforcement authorities, synthetic marijuana manufacturers are constantly adding new chemicals to their batches of the drug. As a result, spice users are never quite sure exactly what effect the drug will have when they ingest it. In fact, people who are taken to the emergency room as a result of spice use often exhibit symptoms such as rapid heart rate, nausea and vomiting, violent behavior, and suicidal thoughts. Unfortunately, synthetic marijuana can be just as addictive as it is dangerous, and users often require specialized rehab at a treatment center in order to overcome a synthetic marijuana addiction.


Synthetic marijuana addiction statistics

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), synthetic marijuana use was linked to well over 11,000 emergency room visits in 2010. One 2014 study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine found that 50% of current marijuana users had previously used synthetic marijuana and 24% reported using synthetic marijuana within the previous month. The vast majority of these participants (95%) learned about synthetic marijuana through a friend.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for synthetic marijuana abuse

Synthetic marijuana is a relatively new drug, so research is still being conducted to determine the factors that can affect a person’s risk of abuse. However, research on cannabinoids as a whole, which is the category of drugs to which synthetic marijuana belongs, has revealed some interesting trends, such as:

Genetic: Research suggests that one’s risk of cannabinoid use is partly related to genetic factors. It is estimated that heritability accounts for between 30% and 80% of the variance related to risk of cannabinoid abuse.

Environmental: In addition to genetic factors, environmental factors can also influence a person’s risk of developing a synthetic marijuana use disorder. Experiencing academic failure, using other drugs, having an unstable or abusive family environment, low socioeconomic status, and ease of access to spice can all increase a person’s chances of abusing the drug.

Risk Factors:

  • Personal history of using other drugs
  • Family history of substance abuse
  • History of conduct disorder or antisocial personality disorder
  • Personal tendency to externalize or internalize psychological issues
  • Poor behavioral inhibition
  • Unstable family environment
  • Poor academic performance
  • Easy access to synthetic marijuana
  • Low socioeconomic status

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of synthetic marijuana abuse

People who abuse spice often share a common set of signs and symptoms. Some of these may include:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Spending excessive time acquiring, using, or recovering from use of synthetic marijuana
  • Failing to fulfill major role obligations due to synthetic marijuana use
  • Using synthetic marijuana over a longer period of time, without rehabilitation, than originally intended
  • Neglecting important activities in favor of using
  • Continuing to use synthetic marijuana even in situations where doing so can be hazardous
  • Using synthetic marijuana despite being aware of significant problems caused by use of the drug
  • Unsuccessful efforts to reduce synthetic marijuana use

Physical symptoms:

  • Dry mouth
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Needing to use higher doses of synthetic marijuana in order to achieve desired effects
  • Red eyes
  • Increased appetite

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Perceptual changes, including altered perception of time, synesthesia, hallucinations, or intensification of perceptions or sensations
  • Poor judgment
  • Experiencing cravings for synthetic marijuana

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Experiencing social or relational problems as a result of synthetic marijuana use
  • Elevated mood
  • Relaxation
  • Agitation
  • Aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia


Effects of synthetic marijuana addiction

If left without treatment at a rehab center for synthetic marijuana, this addiction can have numerous widespread negative effects on a person’s life. Some of these may include:

  • Onset or worsening of mental health symptoms
  • Polysubstance use, addiction, or chemical dependency
  • Substandard performance at work or school, potentially leading to job loss or expulsion
  • Financial disruption
  • Social tension or isolation
  • Compromised cognitive abilities
  • Loss of motivation
  • Injury as a result of dangerous behaviors performed while intoxicated

Co-Occurring Disorders

Synthetic marijuana addiction and co-occurring disorders

People who abuse synthetic marijuana often experience other mental health disorders and symptoms. Some of the most common of these disorders and symptoms include:

  • Depressive disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Conduct disorder
  • Other substance use disorders
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Effects of Withdrawal and Overdose

Effects of synthetic marijuana withdrawal and overdose

Effects of synthetic marijuana withdrawal: Attempting to abstain from synthetic marijuana after a long period of use can result in a number of uncomfortable symptoms, some of which may include:

  • Irritability, anger, or aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Nervousness
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Distressing dreams
  • Depressed mood
  • Restlessness
  • Stomach pain
  • Shaking or tremors
  • Fever or chills
  • Headache
  • Sweating

Effects of synthetic marijuana overdose: Use of spice in excess of what a person’s body is able to handle will result in an uncomfortable and possibly dangerous set of symptoms. Someone who has been using synthetic marijuana and experiences the following symptoms should receive medical attention immediately:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Violent behavior
  • Vomiting
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Heart attack or cardiovascular problems

Why Consider Synthetic Marijuana Abuse Treatment

Why consider synthetic marijuana abuse treatment at our rehab center in Newport Beach

When a person has been struggling with a synthetic marijuana addiction, sometimes the best possible way to help is by providing a safe, drug-free place for that person to recover. Residential care at Sober Living by the Sea can provide just such an environment. This network of providers consists of The Landing, The Rose, and Sunrise Recovery Ranch, which are all high-quality centers.

Residential care at these three centers imparts numerous benefits for a person seeking to overcome a drug addiction. First, residential care removes a person from his or her environment and places him or her into a safe and drug-free space, thus eliminating the temptation to relapse. Second, residential rehab at one of our treatment centers includes 24-hour supervision and care to ensure that each individual has the best possible chance to experience 30 to 90 days of sobriety. Third, in residential care, a person lives, breathes, eats, and sleeps treatment. He or she can be fully devoted to developing the skills necessary to build a life free from the influence of synthetic marijuana without being distracted by the stresses and temptations of outside life. With the expertise and compassionate care of our dedicated treatment team, it is possible for each individual to build a foundation for a synthetic marijuana-free life.

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Before going to Sober Living by the Sea, my addiction to synthetic marijuana. The people I met and the staff that helped me are people I will forever be grateful for. They’re the most encouraging and understanding people I have met.

– Former Patient
Marks of Quality care
Our accreditations show our focus on quality care.
  • American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM)
  • California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals (CCAPP)
  • Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF)