Professionalism and Experience


Synthetic Drugs (K2, Spice, Bath Salts) Overview

Synthetic Drugs, sold under names including Spice and K2, first became available in the United States about five years ago. In an effort to further crack down on synthetic drugs in April of 2013, the federal government announced it is outlawing three more synthetic marijuana substances. The substances have been designated as Schedule I drugs, which creates criminal penalties for anyone who is caught selling or possessing them. “Smoking mixtures of these substances for the purpose of achieving intoxication has been identified as a reason for numerous emergency room visits and calls to poison control centers,” the Justice Department stated.  We know, for example, that these products often contain various amphetamine-like chemicals, such as methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MPDV), mephedrone and pyrovalerone. The Justice Department noted that since people using these drugs obtain them from unknown sources, the purity of these drugs is uncertain, “thus posing significant adverse health risk to these users.” In many cases, synthetic marijuana can be stronger than the naturally grown drug.

Synthetic Drug Abuse Treatment

The treatment of Synthetic Drug intoxication involves providing intensive medical monitoring and attention to address the specific symptoms of the individual. It also often involves using medication to alleviate the agitation and other emotional symptoms of intoxication. The primary goals for the treatment of addiction symptoms (also called recovery) are abstinence, relapse prevention, and rehabilitation. When the addicted person first abstains from using drugs, he or she may need help avoiding or lessening the effects of withdrawal. That process is called detoxification or detox. That part of treatment is usually performed in a hospital or other inpatient setting (often called detox centers), where medications used to decrease withdrawal symptoms and frequent medical assessments can be provided. As with many other drugs of abuse, the detox process from Synthetic Drugs is likely the most difficult aspect of coping with the physical symptoms of addiction and tends to last for days. People who may have less severe psychological symptoms of Synthetic Drug dependency may be able to be maintained in an outpatient treatment program. Those who have a more severe addiction, have relapsed after engaging in outpatient programs, or who also suffer from a severe mental illness might need the higher level of structure, guidance, and monitoring provided in an inpatient drug-treatment center, often referred to as "rehab." After inpatient treatment, many Synthetic Drug addicts may need to reside in a sober-living community, that is, a group-home setting where counselors provide continued sobriety support and structure on a daily basis.

Another important aspect of treating Synthetic Drug addiction is helping family members and friends of the addicted person refrain from supporting addictive behaviors (codependency). Whether codependent loved ones provide financial support, excuses, or fail to acknowledge the addictive behaviors of the addict, discouraging such codependency of friends and family is a key part of the recovery of the affected individual. Focusing on the Synthetic Drug-addicted person's role in the family likely becomes even more urgent when that person is a child or teenager. Bath salts-dependency treatment for children and adolescents differs further from that in adults by the younger addict's tendency to need help finishing their education and achieving higher education or job training compared to addicts who may have completed those parts of their lives before developing the addiction.

Synthetic Drug Signs of Abuse

Signs of abuse of Synthetic Drugs may be identified through these behaviors:

  • Neglecting priorities at home, work, or school because of Synthetic Drug abuse.

  • Using Synthetic Drugs in situations where it’s physically dangerous, like at raves or while operating machinery

  • Experiencing repeated legal problems on account of illicit use of Synthetic Drugs, such as getting arrested

  • Continuing to use Synthetic Drugs even though it is causing problems in relationships.

  • Using Synthetic Drugs to relieve stress or cope with problems.

Effects of Synthetic Drug Abuse

Synthetic Drugs are typically administered orally, by inhalation, or by injection, with the worst outcomes apparently associated with snorting or intravenous administration. Mephedrone is of particular concern because, according to the United Kingdom experience, it presents a high risk for overdose. These chemicals act in the brain like stimulant drugs (indeed they are sometimes touted as cocaine substitutes); thus they present a high abuse and addiction liability. Consistent with this notion, these products have been reported to trigger intense cravings not unlike those experienced by methamphetamine users, and clinical reports from other countries appear to corroborate their addictiveness. They can also confer a high risk for other medical adverse effects. Some of these may be linked to the fact that, beyond their known psychoactive ingredients, the contents of "Synthetic Drugs" are largely unknown, which makes the practice of abusing them, by any route, that much more dangerous.

Synthetic Drug Withdrawal Symptoms

There can be many withdrawal symptoms that come with Synthetic Drugs, and there are also very many categories of withdrawal symptoms. Emotional withdrawal symptoms include: anxiety, restlessness, irritability, insomnia, headaches, poor concentration, depression, and social isolation. Physical withdrawal symptoms; sweating, heart racing, palpitations, muscle tension, tightness in the chest, difficulty breathing, tremor, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. Dangerous withdrawal symptoms; grand mal seizures, heart attacks, strokes, hallucinations, and delirium tremens.

Synthetic Drug Abuse Statistics

Unfortunately, Synthetic Drugs have already been linked to an alarming number of ER visits across the country. Doctors and clinicians at U.S. poison centers have indicated that ingesting or snorting Synthetic Drugs can cause chest pains, increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, agitation, hallucinations, extreme paranoia, and delusions. It is noteworthy that, even though we are barely two months into 2011, there have been 251 calls related to Synthetic Drugs to poison control centers so far this year. This number already exceeds the 236 calls received by poison control centers for all of 2010. In response to this emerging threat, several states, including Hawaii, Michigan, Louisiana, Kentucky, and North Dakota, have introduced legislation to ban these products, which are incidentally labeled as "not fit for human consumption." In addition, several counties, cities, and local municipalities have also taken action to ban these products. The full extent of "bath salt" abuse is not known. In addition to use in the US, DEA reports of illicit MDPV use have been noted in Europe and Australia. The first reports of MDPV seizure was from Germany in 2007.3 The United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Israel have banned the chemicals. According to the DEA, the first US reports came in during 2009. From 2010 to 2011, reports in the US increased dramatically. As of March 22, 2011, poison control centers in 45 states and the District of Columbia had received calls related to "Synthetic Drugs". In the first 3 months of 2011, US poison control centers have received 5 times as many calls relating to "Synthetic Drugs" as compared to the total number of calls in 2010.

Prior to the federal ban, many states had enacted their own bans on at least some of the chemicals found in Synthetic Drugs. Marquette County, Michigan took quick and local action to restrict abuse of "Synthetic Drugs" in February of 2011 due to a rash of emergency admissions from November 2010 through March 2011. An emergency public health order was executed by the Marquette County Health Department to allow seizure of Synthetic Drugs from a local store. Subsequent testing found that the products contained MDPV. Among 35 patients, 17 were hospitalized, and one died. The median age of the patient was 28 years (range 20-55 years), with men accounting for 54% of admissions. Twenty-four of these 35 patients (69%) had a self-reported history of drug abuse, 16 patients (46%) had a history of mental illness, and six patients (17%) reported suicidal thoughts or attempts that may have been related to "Synthetic Drug" use.


Individualized detox protocols are carefully monitored and tailored to address detox symptoms. As part of our holistic approach, our detox incorporates traditional detox with biofeedback sessions.

Clients being treated in our residential program reside with us for the specific amount of days established in their individualized addiction treatment program.

Our treatment model is rooted in the belief that it is our utmost responsibility to do whatever we can to prepare our clients for life outside of treatment.

In addition to our traditional therapeutic treatments we offer holistic and alternative therapies such as: yoga, chiropractic care, medical massage, personal training and art therapy.