‘Spice’ may grow up to be very popular, say experts

A day after My Medical Mantra reported about the incidence of a new drug, ‘spice’ in the city, social networking websites, Twitter and Facebook, took to discuss the matter in detail. ‘Spice’ Drug, commonly known as synthetic weed is coincidentally reported to be common among young girls and teenagers

‘Smoking-up’ is a commonly used term among the teenagers these days. So much seems to be the daze of addiction that most of them don’t realize what’s ‘rolled in those papers’. Shockingly, a new drug seems to have hit the Indian shore.

For one, it is dangerous as no one knows about its ill effects completely. And second, it is not identifiable using common drug tests. ‘Spice’ Drug, commonly known as synthetic weed is coincidentally reported to be common among teenagers, especially among girls.

In 2011, according to the national ‘Monitoring the Future’ survey, it was the second-most used drug after marijuana among students of class VIII, X and XII grades. More than one in 10 had tried Spice, said an article by the Guardian in UK.

The worrisome fact undoubtedly has been that it can’t be identified through usual drug tests. Anecdotal reports suggest that authorities’ inability to detect Spice has made it more appealing to its frequent. Spice use has been a problem in Britain’s prisons for years, helped by the fact it does not show up in routine drug tests, report says.

On further reading, doctors across the world say the tests to identify these drugs are available abroad, but are surely expensive, “It is more commonly called kronic here although the first brands that were introduced was called spice. It is not detected in routine urine or blood tests. Only some metabolites are apparently detected in urine,” said Dr. Gurvindar Kalra, psychiatrist based in Melbourne, Australia. “I don’t think such tests are available in India. Given that, the spice drug has just hit the shore there. Even in Australia, as of now no tests are commercially available,” he added.

“Very few people consume this drug in India. The audience is niche. That could be the reason why women have it because one, it is not detected in tests and second, it is available with very sophisticated peddlers,” said Dr. Sagar Mundada, consulting psychiatrist at KEM hospital and youth wing president of Indian Medical Association (IMA)-Maharashtra chapter.

The effects of the drug are still unknown, but seem to be as lethal as that of weed. “While there is very little research into the effects the chemicals have on the body, there are multiple reports of people dying after smoking it in the UK,” read a report by Guardian.

“It is consumed by younger population mostly. There are numerous health effects majorly because it is laced with impurities,” added Dr. Gurvindar.

Having said that, doctors are puzzled about how are teens accessing this drug. “Until this one girl’s parents came to me with their daughter’s smoking-up addiction a month ago, I never knew this existed. Now, nobody knows how she got it or who is selling them,” said Dr. Priyanka Mahajan, psychiatrist at Masina Hospital.  “It is not that very popular in India but yes, we have attended to two such patients – both in the age group between 17 and 20.”

Dr. Harish Shetty, consulting psychiatrist at LH Hiranandani Hospital said, “I have asked my friends from abroad to send me some details on these drug tests or addiction effects. It is scary because the users a are young girls between the age of  14 years and 17 years.”

“As yet, we haven’t found any such sample. But any tests’ result will take time. We are investigating on the case further,” said Shivdeep Lande, deputy commissioner of police (DCP), Anti-Narcotics Cell (ANC).

What is Spice? (Source: The Sun)

Spice was invented accidentally by an organic chemist called John Huffmann at Clemson University in South Carolina, USA. Huffmann was searching for a new way of developing anti-inflammatory medication which happened to involve the creation of hundreds of synthetic types of cannabis.

The boffin declared the substance not fit for human consumption in 2006, but it began to surface on websites two years later around the same time mephedrone or M-cat was becoming popular.