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Synthetic psychoactive substances are dangerous. At least 20 deaths so far this year have been attributed to these chemicals, which react with the cannabinoid receptors in the brain and have often been given the somewhat misleading name “synthetic cannabis”.

Our new Did You Know video and poster explain what synthetic psychoactive substances are, why they are so unpredictable and dangerous, and how people who use them despite the risks can keep themselves safer.

Designed to appeal to young people, the video and poster describe how new synthetic chemcials are manufactured to imitate more well-known drugs such as cannabis, MDMA, LSD and speed. Some are stimulants which will speed up bodily functions; others are depressants which slow the brain and body down, and some cause hallucinations. They may look similar to the drugs they mimic, but they can be a lot stronger with different effects. They also often smell different.

Graphic: Just the facts. Why synthetics are killing people.

None of these chemicals have been tested as safe, and it’s impossible to know how they will affect an individual. Using large amounts, or over a sustained period, can cause significant health problems, even death. Mixing them with other drugs or alcohol is particularly dangerous.

The latest poster and video in the Did You Know series are designed to help spread the facts that anyone of all ages should know. They are particularly useful for adults to have essential conversations with young people about drugs.

Did You Know was commissioned and directed by the AOD Provider Collaborative (supported by Odyssey) and by the New Zealand Drug Foundation.

Download the poster or view the video here

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Did You Know: Teenagers can handle facts about drugs

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