The New York Times Magazine today is reporting on the use of Spike, a synthetic form of marijuana. In Northeast Ohio, the term is Spice. Dr. Leslie Koblentz, chair of psychiatry and medical director of the Psychiatric Emergency Department at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, explains what she’s seen with this dangerous, hard-to-detect drug.
“Spice or synthetic marijuana gives people superhuman strength while taking away any moral or emotional sense,” she says. A number of patients will be brought to the Psychiatric Emergency Department with symptoms similar to those discussed in today's article. But much like a trauma hospital is notified in advance when a patient is arriving via medical transport, the Psychiatric Emergency Department receives a call in advance from the police department.
“Our psychiatric trauma team mobilizes is much the same way as a regular trauma team. We have all the members and equipment available to care for the patient,” she said. That includes security, mental health technicians, psychiatrist, nurses and rooms equipped with beds with restraints. In fact, in some cases, beds are placed side-by-side to keep patients from rocking the bed—even while restrained—in an effort to tip it over.
“We have no idea how many patients use spice because there’s no lab test specifically to test for it. However, we will check things such as PCP levels, ketamine levels, and creatine kinase breakdown. It really becomes a diagnosis of exclusion,” Koblentz said.