The flip side of "Spice": The adverse effects of synthetic cannabinoids as discussed on a Swedish Internet forum
2014 (English)In: Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, ISSN 1458-6126, Vol. 31, no 2, 207-219 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
BACKGROUND - Synthetic cannabinoids in smoking mixtures (such as Spice) or as raw powder are sold for recreational use as an alternative to herbal cannabis (hashish and marijuana). Although clinical case studies have documented an array of side effects, there is also information available at Internet based drug discussion forums. AIM - Our study investigates experiences of side effects from use of synthetic cannabinoids, as described and anonymously shared on Swedish online discussion forums. METHODS - A systematic search yielded 254 unique and publicly available self-reports from the Swedish forum flashback.org. These texts were analysed thematically, which resulted in 32 sub-themes, which were combined into three overarching themes. RESULTS & CONCLUSION - The experiences of negative side effects were described as (1) Adverse reactions during acute intoxication; (2) Hangover the day after intoxication; (3) Dependency and withdrawal after long-term use. The first theme was characterized by an array of fierce and unpredictable side effects as tachycardia, anxiety, fear and nausea. The acute intoxication reactions were congruent with the side effects published in clinical case studies. The day after intoxication included residual effects of dullness, apathy, nausea and headache. Long-term use resulted in dependency and experiences of being emotionally numb and disconnected. Furthermore, withdrawal was described as sweating, shaking, loss of appetite and insomnia. Both the hangover and the long-term effects have previously been given little scientific attention and need to be investigated further. Drug related Internet discussion forums constitute an overlooked source of information which can aid in the identification of previously unknown risks and effects
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Walter de Gruyter, 2014. Vol. 31, no 2, 207-219 p.
Internet drugs, Spice, synthetic cannabinoids, cannabis
Research subject Psychology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-30789DOI: 10.2478/nsad-2014-0016ISI: 000335903700007OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-30789DiVA: diva2:682562