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Q & A With Addiction Specialist About Spice

A chemical dependency expert weighs in about Spice problems across metro Detroit, including New Baltimore and Chesterfield.

New Baltimore-Chesterfield Patch asks Krystal Armstrong, program manager for the chemical dependency unit at in New Baltimore about K2, also known as Spice.

What affect, if any, has K2 had on patients at Harbor Oaks?

The patients that we have admitted with K2 abuse or dependency usually have symptoms of psychosis. This is why it is imperative for the patient to inform Harbor Oaks if they have used this drug so that we can treat the patient appropriately with either psychotherapy or psychopharmacology.

How many patients would you say have been treated for Spice addictions and how has that increased/decreased over the past few years?

It has definitely increased on both our substance abuse unit as well as our child adolescent unit. I cannot estimate on our child/adolescent unit, however, our substance abuse unit I could say one out of five have experimented with Spice.

What kind of behavior have people exhibited on Spice?

People who have been using Spice typically mirror almost the same or identical symptoms of someone who is currently in psychosis. This means mostly hallucinations, paranoia, delusional, and etc. This is why it is difficult to decipher whether a person who presents with these symptoms are drug induced or maybe the person is having his/her first psychotic break. The rare thing is that most drug tests doesn’t test for K2, only a few, which makes it very hard to detect.

What's the best approach for getting them off the drug?

K2 does not require a medical detox such as other drugs. However, it is more important for the patient to become involved in intense individual substance abuse therapy. There is usually an underlying mental health disorder attached to the rationale as to why the person is abusing drugs. This can include depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, or a mood disorder.

Since K2 does not classify as reasoning for inpatient substance abuse treatment, what I have found with most of our K2 abusers that they are also using alcohol or opiates in which those two DOES classify as an inpatient substance abuse admission.

Do you find this is more common among younger patients? If so, what age range are you seeing?

It is actually common among all ages, adolescents and adults.

Why do you think individuals have gravitated to K2? Does it pertain in any way to easy access as opposed to drugs that are illegal?

In my professional opinion, people are gravitated towards K2 because it’s legal, accessible, and at some times undetectable.

Additional information about this substance:

K2 is very dangerous and can be more dangerous than any other drug due to the ingredients. No one knows for sure what’s in those packages. Inhaling these dangerous fumes are very dangerous. People who need help getting off this drug should contact their local community health agency or their insurance company.

Read more the challenges Spice poses in the community .

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