People continue to be treated for Spice - Tucson News Now

People continue to be treated for Spice

(Source: Drug Enforcement Administration) (Source: Drug Enforcement Administration)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

It's been almost two months since three Tucson stores were raided for the illegal sale of spice in which multiple people were arrested.

Since then, the number of spice calls have gone down, according to the Tucson Fire Department, but there are still people that are being treated for addiction.

John Leggio, a licensed independent substance abuse counselor and CEO of The Mark Drug & Alcohol Outpatient Clinic near Pima Street and Swan Road, said in the last few months, he's seen about five different spice users.

"It's a very scary drug," said Leggio. "It could lead to aggressive type of behavior, just kind of panic and pandemonium."

Leggio said at last check, spice has more than 140 different molecules of synthetic cannabinoids. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse , synthetic cannabinoids are sometimes called "synthetic marijuana", and they're often marketed as "safe" legal alternatives to that drug.

"In fact, they may affect the brain much more powerfully than marijuana; their actual effects can be unpredictable and, in some cases, severe or even life-threatening," said NIDA officials.

Leggio said the average spice user is a person in their teens or early 20's. For a spice addict, Leggio said the treatment can be pretty intense depending on the level of care they need.

Even though spice calls have gone down here in Tucson, Leggio said his work here never stops.

"It has a tendency to spring back up, and it springs back up with vengeance too," he said. "We actually see people that come to treatment here that we have to refer to a higher level of care because they're experiencing a severe paranoia or psychosis."

In July 2016, authorities arrested 18 people and seized nearly 600 pounds of synthetic drugs, several luxury vehicles and over $350,000 in a multi-agency investigation in three cities, including Tucson.

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