Spice is a highly addictive, cheap drug. Spice. We're all hearing about it now. A once legal-high drug is a kind of synthetic marijuana, which apparently turns its users into zombie-like entities. That's what the news says, anyway. And you might have seen people on spice but didn't know just what kind of state they were in.

Many of the users are homeless. The fact that spice is half the price of weed appeals to people lacking in funds and in need of a cheap high. The other problem is that spice is highly addictive. Cheap, addictive and homelessness; it doesn't take a genius to see that the three are not a good combination.

Last week, in Greater Manchester, a city that where the homeless community has been heavily affected by spice, the emergency services attended to 58 spice-related incidents in the city centre on Friday, Saturday and Sunday last week. According to an article in the Guardian, researchers claim that 90-95 percent of the homeless population in Manchester use the drug, a statistic so shocking that the drug really needs to be categorised within the same bracket as heroin and alcohol.

Side effects

Like all drugs, here are Side Effects to using spice. Side effects with drugs can range from pleasurable experiences to downright horrific episodes. Many reports of spice leads me to the conclusion that users would be experiencing the latter of the two.

Some of the serious effects of the drug include:

  • psychotic episodes
  • paranoia, increased anxiety and hallucinations – typically much more severe than after smoking marijuana.
  • increased heart rate
  • agitation
  • vomiting
  • seizures
  • uncontrollable body movements
  • lack of emotional attachment
  • sweating and loss of control

The majority of the effects are rather horrendous and if anyone knew them before taking the drug then why would they do it?

I think that the problem is, like other drugs, is that people who take them heavily, just don't care. They want to send their minds away from the usual daily life, for whatever reason, and spice certainly does that. But other drugs' pleasurable experiences usually outweigh the terrible effects - that's why people do it. So it could be said that the side effects of completely blacking out from the real world might be appealing to people who want to do so.

What's been done about it?

Many addiction and homeless charities have taken upon themselves to the best as they can to help with the continuous casualties of spice but there's not much they can possibly do to solve the issue if they don't know what they're are dealing with.

With the likes of alcohol and heroin addiction, steps can be taken in the treatment for these drugs, steps that have been tried and tested, but with spice, a relatively new drug, there is no basis to work off. It's a very difficult situation. The concoction of chemicals and ingredients vary from each batch of spice, so pinpointing an exact solution is hard to detect.

As the use of spice is becoming a lot more highlighted in the recent news, you would imagine that the government would push more funds into the direction of homeless and drug charities helping with the spice addiction. It should be ranked alongside that of class- A drug and alcohol abuse, as spice has the same power to ruin lives.