Synthetic Drug Addiction Detox, Treatment, and Rehabilitation

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Synthetic drugs are substances that chemical compounds are created in a laboratory, and sold to replicate the effects of certain substances. (1) Synthetic drugs are often available at gas stations, convenience stores, the internet, and drug paraphernalia stores.

Common synthetic drugs include: (2)

  • Synthetic stimulants – Synthetic cathinones or “bath salts”.
  • Synthetic cannabinoids – Synthetic marijuana, K2, Spice.

Engaging in the use of synthetic drugs can be dangerous, as they can cause unpredictable and intense effects. Synthetic drug use can also lead to addiction or dependency, making access to effective synthetic drug addiction treatment crucial. In 2020, overdoses involving synthetic opioids accounted for approximately 82 percent of all opioid related deaths. (3) Additionally, poison control centers receive thousands of reports every year, due effects associated with synthetic cannabinoid use. (4)

If you suspect that you, or someone you love, are experiencing addiction or dependency to synthetic drugs, synthetic drug treatment is the most beneficial way to develop the necessary tools needed for sobriety. At Guardian Recovery Network, we offer synthetic drug detox and psychoeducation to help those finding it difficult to control their synthetic drug use. Offering services such as intervention services and addiction therapy, we are dedicated to providing comprehensive treatment options. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment options and to start your road to recovery.

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How Do Synthetic Drugs Cause Addiction & Dependence?

There are two main types of synthetic drugs. These are known as synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic cathinones.

Synthetic Cannabinoids

Synthetic cannabinoids were developed in order to mimic the effects of THC, which is the active ingredient in marijuana.

Synthetic cannabinoids impact the same brain receptors as THC. (5) Research has found that synthetic cannabinoids bind stronger than marijuana does to brain receptors, producing greater effects. (6) These stronger effects make the synthetic substances highly addictive. The exact chemical composition of synthetic cannabinoids vary, making more research on how they interact with the brain needed.

Short-term side effects associated with synthetic cannabinoid use include:

  • Extreme anxiety.
  • Panic attacks.
  • Agitation.
  • Elevated blood pressure.
  • Increased heart rate.
  • Delusions.
  • Hallucination.
  • Psychotic episodes.

Synthetic Cathinones

Synthetic cathinones, or bath salts, were developed in order to mimic the active ingredient found in stimulants. Specifically, synthetic cathinones work to mimic methamphetamine, cocaine, and MDMA.

A lot is unknown regarding how synthetic cathinones affect the brain. Research found that a common synthetic cathinone, known as MDPV, affects the brain similarly to cocaine, but is approximately 10 times more powerful. (7) These powerful effects can lead to individuals repeatedly and continuously engaging in synthetic cathinone use.

Short-term side effects associated with synthetic cathinone use include:

  • Increased heart rate.
  • Elevated blood pressure.
  • Nausea and/or vomiting.
  • Chest pain.
  • Violent outburst.
  • Erratic behavior.
  • Extreme anxiety.
  • Paranoia.
  • Delusions.
  • Hallucinations.

Common Signs & Symptoms of Synthetic Drug Dependence

Being able to identify the signs and symptoms associated with synthetic drug use, addiction, and dependency can help determine if you or a loved one are experiencing synthetic drug use disorder.

Common signs and symptoms associated with synthetic drug include:

  • Needing more of a synthetic drug, for a longer period of time than intended.
  • Continuing to engage in synthetic drug use despite experiencing legal, financial, health-related, or interpersonal consequences directly related to synthetic drug use.
  • Experiencing noticeable changes in mood and/or behavior.
  • Experiencing a lack of motivation.
  • Lacking interest in activities that were previously enjoyed before synthetic drug use.
  • Socially isolating oneself from close friends and family members.
  • Lacking in personal hygiene.
  • Engaging in risky-behaviors.
  • Developing a physical tolerance, meaning that a larger quantity of a synthetic drug is needed, over time, in order to produce the desired effects or experience effects produced in the past.
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when synthetic drug use is cut back or stopped suddenly.

Synthetic Drug Addiction Detox & Rehab Process

It is recommended that those wanting to stop their synthetic drug use attend a synthetic drug detox program. Detoxification, or detox, is the process of removing substance from the body. Detox is often the first step in the substance use recovery process. At Guardian Recovery Network, we offer medical detox services for those wanting to take control of their substance use.

Is It Safe to Detox From Synthetic Drugs on Your Own?

When it comes to synthetic drugs, it is recommended that an individual attends a medically monitored detox facility, as opposed to stopping synthetic drug use on their own. This is due to the withdrawal symptoms that stopping synthetic drug use elicits. Withdrawal symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable and even dangerous. A medically supervised detox facility can provide an individual with 24/7 care to help them safely overcome their withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, a synthetic drug rehab program, that includes detox, may utilize medication-assisted treatment to help minimize withdrawal symptoms.

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Detoxing the Body From Synthetic Drug Abuse

Detoxing the body from synthetic drug use can be difficult as withdrawal symptoms can lead to intense psychological cravings, which may lead to relapse.

Duration of Withdrawal Symptoms

The exact duration of an individual’s withdrawal symptoms depend on the overall severity of their synthetic drug use.

Withdrawal symptoms associated with synthetic drug use include:

  • Difficulties falling and staying asleep.
  • Anxiety and panic attacks.
  • General feelings of physical discomfort.
  • Persistent headache.
  • Body tremors or uncontrollable shaking.
  • Intense psychological drug cravings.
  • Changes in appetite and eating patterns.

The Withdrawal Timeline for Synthetic Drug Abuse

Like the duration of symptoms, the timeline of withdrawal symptoms may vary, depending on the individual. Though, withdrawal symptoms can persist for up to 4 weeks following last use. (8)

How Long Does It Take To Detox From Synthetic Drugs?

The exact time that it takes to detox from synthetic drugs varies for each individual, how long they used synthetic drugs, and how often they engaged in its misuse.

Treatment Methods for Synthetic Drug Dependence

The combination of medication-assisted treatment and therapeutic interventions have been found to be effective in the treatment of synthetic drugs.

Dual Diagnosis & Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment

A dual diagnosis occurs when an individual experiences substance use, and a mental health disorder, at the same time. Treatment for co-occurring disorders can be difficult as addressing both disorders is imperative for treatment success. At Guardian Recovery Network, we offer dual diagnosis treatment for those experiencing comorbid substance use and mental health disorders.

Rehab Programs & Treatment Options for Synthetic Drug Addiction

There are different steps and levels of care associated with synthetic drug rehab.

Inpatient Rehabilitation

Residential inpatient, or inpatient, provides individuals with around-the-clock care. Individuals reside full-time at an inpatient facility, and follow a daily structured schedule. Daily activities include, individual therapygroup therapyfamily therapyrecreational therapy, and psychiatric medication management.

Outpatient Rehab

Standard outpatient rehab is often the lowest level of care in the addiction rehab process. Individuals reside at their private homes, and attend treatment weekly, biweekly, or monthly, depending on their progress.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

Partial hospitalization, or PHP, often immediately follows inpatient care. PHPs are attended for approximately 5 to 6 days a week. Individuals typically reside at their private home, or at a sober living facility, and attend their PHP activities during the day.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

Intensive outpatient programs, or IOPs, often immediately follow PHP care. Individuals attend treatment 3 to 5 days a week, for approximately 3 to 5 hours each day.

Virtual & Online Treatment & Counseling

Virtual and online treatment options make synthetic drug recovery possible for those with limited schedules. At Guardian Recovery Network, we offer online treatment and counseling sessions for those wanting the convenience of being able to attend treatment in the comfort of their own home.

Relapse Prevention for Synthetic Drug Addiction

Relapse occurs when an individual begins substance use following a period of sobriety. Approximately two-thirds of all individuals who receive substance use treatment relapse at some point. (9) At Guardian Recovery Network, we offer relapse prevention training to provide individuals with the tools needed to maintain their sobriety over time.

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Our Simple Admissions Process

If you, or a loved one, are ready to start your recovery journey, Guardian Recovery Network is here to help. One of our Treatment Advisors is ready to speak with you and help guide you through our simple admissions process. A free, no obligation, insurance benefits check can be provided, upon your request, in order to determine which of our treatment options is covered by your health insurance plan. Start your recovery journey today on the Guardian Path.

SELF-ASSESSMENT:

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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.

  1. https://www.needhamma.gov/DocumentCenter/View/13707/Synthetic-Drugs-Article_final?bidId=
  2. https://dps.syr.edu/public-information/synthetic-drug-facts/
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/deaths/synthetic/index.html
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/hsb/chemicals/sc/healthcare.html
  5. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/synthetic-cannabinoids-k2spice
  6. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/synthetic-cannabinoids-k2spice
  7. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/synthetic-cathinones-bath-salts
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3965957/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3674771/

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave

L.M.H.C.

Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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