The Spice Must Flow

I’m currently reading through the Dune series of books by Frank Herbert (and later continued by his son). There is a substance in that universe called “melange” or “spice”. It has the effect of prolonging life, and imparting prescience to certain users. It permeates every planet in the universe as everyone is hooked on it to some degree or another. It’s largely benign as far as side effects go, and it is basically the central hub around which the entire universal economy turns.

We also have Spice here on Earth. Unfortunately, it’s not beneficial, it doesn’t prolong life and it is far far from benign.

Spice is intended to be a synthetic weed (Synthetic cannabanoid). It’s a menagerie of designer drugs that interact with your brain receptors much like marijuana does. They make it look more like weed by spraying it onto plant matter and shredding it, or producing a liquid form that can be vaped.

Spice is one of the brand names of these drugs. It can also be called K2 or herbal incense. It’s easy to get at head shops across the country. I’m just going to keep calling it Spice because… well that’s what we call it.

These designer drugs were invented in the early nineties and rose to prominence in 2008/2009. The reason they are not outlawed directly is that there is so much variety in their composition. The police officers I’ve spoken with say that every time a formulation is outlawed, they are simply retooled and keep on selling. As I said earlier, they are easy to get, and very cheap. Because of its ever-changing nature it’s also difficult to test for.

Many people downplay the effects of Spice. In-fact, I had heard it was harmless before coming on the job. Now I see it every day. It is definitely anything but harmless. Unfortunately since it’s always being reformulated its effects are ever-changing.

We run on at least one Spice overdose per shift on my truck. Sometimes four or five. Other firefighters I’ve talked to about it say it’s reaching epidemic proportions in all parts of town. From one batch to the next, behaviors of those under its influence can range from nearly catatonic to all-out mania. I’ve had patients that just sit and stare off into the distance, people that are unconscious, people that are vomiting to no end, and people that are having crazy episodes that lead to extremely erratic and harmful behavior. One patient that I had was thrashing around on a sidewalk, slamming all of his limbs into the curb, smashing his head on the concrete, and trying to remove a car bumper with his mouth.

Spice is not harmless. It is unpredictable, destructive, addictive and insidious. 

If you’ve never tried it, please don’t.

You can learn more about Spice here,  and here, and here is a slate article about it also.

You can get help for Spice addiction at


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *