Dear Parents, Patients, and Colleagues,
I feel compelled to address a very important issue with all of you. Over the past few years, a substance called K2 or Spice has emerged as synthetic, “legal” THC-like compound. It is a combination of unregulated synthetic chemicals often mixed with a very floral scented herbal concoction and sold as a “legal” form of marijuana (however it does not contain active THC).
Teens seem to be attracted to it because 1. it does not show up on drug tests, 2. is apparently easy to get and legal- kids do not have to feel like they are lying to their parents when asked if they are smoking weed (because technically they are not), and 3. people can get very high from smoking it and it is relatively inexpensive.
I have now seen three cases in my own practice of very serious psychiatric side effects that came from using this drug, including severe anxiety, agitated and aggressive behavior, and a general sense of mental instability. There have been reports all over the country of similar effects in users and there is concern that frequent users of the substance can develop physical addiction. It is still largely unstudied and unregulated. There is also concern that it is related to several sudden cardiac deaths.
I am highly concerned that teens think that K2 (or whatever the current name of the day is) is a safe “herbal” and benign drug and thus do not consider it “using drugs” or “smoking,” etc.
This is a relatively new problem and much overlooked. But, I now hear that it easy to buy in the city- even at local delis. I think we must really talk to the kids openly and directly about it.
Direct and honest communication about drug and alcohol use is difficult for many families (primarily because kids have a difficult time being honest about their use- they do not want their social activities or freedom to be limited). But continued efforts to keep the dialogue open is so important as substance use is incredibly prevalent in most of the social lives of the NYC teens that I see in my practice.
Thanks for reading this. Please educate your kids about this issue, as I will during our visits. More information can be found online.
As always, it is a pleasure and privilege to care for you and your children.
Kari Groff, MD
Kari Groff, MD is a child and adult psychiatrist practicing in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Kari is an expert in psychopharmacology, and offers a holistic and wellness-centered approach to treatment. Her practice includes pharmacologic management of post-partum and pregnancy mood issues, ADHD, anxiety disorders, depression and bipolar disorder. She completed her fellowship in Child and Adolescent psychiatry at the NYU Child Study Center. Prior to moving to New York, she trained at the esteemed Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Groff is also a violinist and children's songwriter. Her experience with children inspired her to create an album dedicated to understanding feelings and emotions as well to celebrate the amazing courage that kids show despite many challenging times. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 646-469-9209.