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Newman M, Denton G, Walker T, Grewal J. 
“The experience of using synthetic cannabinoids: A qualitative analysis of online user self-reports”. 
European Psychiatry. 2016 Apr 4;33(Supplement):S373-S374.
The number of novel psychoactive substances (NPS) available is increasing. Synthetic cannabinoids (SC) are one of many NPS sold. SC aim to emulate the effects of natural cannabis by acting on cannabinoid receptors. Despite much research into pharmacology, there is limited data on the user experience of SC. It is useful for psychiatrists, to understand what experiences people have whilst on illicit substances. The aim of this qualitative study is to gain an initial understanding of what characterizes the experiences of those who use SC. Fourty anonymously written online reports were collected from the "Erowid experience vaults" and analysed using the Empirical Phenomenological Psychological Method.The analysis yielded 488 meaning units (MU). These were grouped into 36 categories revealing 5 broad themes: (1) physical affects; (2) sensory distortions and distortions of perception; (3) emotional and psychological effects; (4) re-dosing, addiction and comedown effects; (5) similarities to other substances. Synthetic cannabinoids have a mixed effect on users with a myriad of experiences reported. Some experienced positive results from their usage such as euphoria and relaxation, however these were counter balanced by those who experienced some serious negative emotional and physical side effects such as anxiety, paranoia, palpitations and convulsions. SC appear to often emulate that of their natural counterpart, yet there is an unpredictability to them which can end with serious consequences. Online forum content gives us a strong base understanding of users experiences of SC. Further research is required to elucidate a more nuanced understanding.
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