If you’re a recovering addict, is it okay to smoke pot when it isn't really pot?
Does getting high off of fake marijuana mean you've relapsed? Most would answer no, it’s not okay to smoke fake pot. To the second point, most would answer yes, using spice to get high means you've relapsed. But for lots of addicts, fake pot – better known as spice – represents a way to get high without really doing drugs. It’s a way to cheat in recovery.
The problem is that experimenting and cheating with spice can lead to a full-blown spice addiction. For recovering addicts, spice addiction is a real danger. If an addict is in denial about their problem, they can see spice as a legitimate way to get high without doing any “real” drugs. When they become dependent on spice, they've developed a spice addiction, whether they want to admit it or not. Many times, they don’t want to admit that spice use is a problem because it’s a “fake” drug.
The DEA doesn't agree that spice is only fake pot. It is synthetic chemicals (synthetic cannabinoids) that make a spice user feel a high similar to marijuana and help them develop a spice addiction, and the DEA has made these chemicals illegal. Many states have instituted their own, additional bans on spice, usually in a response to increased hospitalizations and deaths related to spice use and spice addiction.
For the addict in denial, it is hard for them to see the real dangers of spice addiction. Lots of people falsely believe that smoking spice is a safe alternative to marijuana and other drugs, especially because the chemicals won’t show up in a drug test. They may not believe in actual spice addiction or that spice use or spice addiction should be considered relapse. For this reason, addicts on probation and addicts in halfway homes, rehabs, and outpatient therapy smoke spice because they can do so and still pass a drug test. They can develop a spice addiction in spite of their treatment providers’ best efforts to monitor their behavior and help curb relapse.
Because synthetic cannabinoid chemicals aren't easily concocted on the street, you’d think that a federal ban on them would make it harder for those with a spice addiction to support their habit. However, many places still sell spice despite the ban. Additionally, chemists have since created new forms of synthetic cannabinoid to fuel spice addiction. Because the chemical makeup is slightly different, the new forms don’t fall under the DEA ban and legally be sold. This is great news for the addict with a spice addiction.
The growing popularity and media attention on spice has made it harder for addicts to “cheat” with a spice addiction and get away with it. Treatment centers are well aware of the signs of spice use and spice addiction, and they’re increasingly on the lookout for patients who test negative for drugs yet still exhibit signs of drug use. Spice addiction may be a way for recovering addicts to fool themselves, but it’s not so easy to fool everyone else anymore.