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Synthetic cannabinoids are substances most often applied to smokable plant material. The finished product is sometimes called synthetic cannabis or synnies. It's safest not to use synthetic cannabinoids at all or if you do, you should treat them with extreme caution to avoid an unpleasant experience, injury or death.
Synthetic cannabinoids are illegal, addictive and dangerous. Countless synthetic cannabinoids have been invented in the past 20 years. Examples in New Zealand include 5F-ADB, AB-FUBINACA, AMB-FUBINACA and JWH-122. They target the cannabinoid receptors in the brain like cannabis, but can be more toxic. More than fifty New Zealanders are suspected of having died after using synthetic cannabinoids since mid-2017.
Synthetic cannabinoids can have a powerful "out of it" effect which can vary depending on which synthetic cannaninoid you use and how much you consume. Common effects include:
If someone falls unconscious after smoking synthetic cannabinoids they could die.
People are often very out of it after using synthetic cannabinoids. They may collapse or “drop”, foam at the mouth or experience temporary paralysis. Place them in a stable side position if possible and continuously monitor breathing.
Always call an ambulance if someone:
The comedown or withdrawal can last days or weeks depending on how much and how often the drug was used. There are a range of common symptoms:
Seek help to manage more serious withdrawal symptoms such as:
A significant number of people in New Zealand experience extreme reactions, serious psychological distress or loss of consciousness requiring hospitalisation with risk of death.
You could have a substance use disorder if you are:
If you decide to stop or cut back, you are likely to experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. It can be very difficult stopping because withdrawal can come on very quickly. Talk to a trusted friend or family member about your plan and ask them to look out for you and support you.
Tips for cutting down include buying less so you use less, delaying your first session of the day, or using a smaller amount than usual.