Clinical guidance for medical professionals published on synthetic cannabinoids, their harms and management

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The organisation Novel Psychoactive Treatment UK Network (NEPTUNE) have published clinical guidance on synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists (SCRAs), documenting the associated harms using the substances can expose the user to and how these can be recognised and managed by healthcare professionals.

The report includes useful background information about SCRAs, including their onset and duration of action, potency and effects. It also identifies the harms of acute toxicity and SCRA-induced psychosis.

The report also includes management information of acute harms such as when to call an ambulance, care bundles and discharging patients.

Their is also a section on long term use of the drugs, looking at the harms associated with this behaviour and how frequent use can be managed.

Key Synthetic Cannabinoid Facts:

  • SCRAs are a large group of drugs, which have a strong effect on the endocannabinoid system.
  • Approximately 200 different SCRA compounds are now available.
  • In 2015, they represented the largest group of novel psychoactive substances (NPS) reported globally and in Europe.
  • Products used for recreational purposes are typically an inert herbal product that has been sprayed with one or more SCRAs and that is smoked.
  • Oral, powder and injectable SCRA preparations have also been reported to be available; in addition they are sold as an e-liquid (the liquid used in electronic cigarettes).
  • There are a large number of brands sold on the UK market containing different SCRAs, with different levels of potency.

Click here to view the clinical guidance on SCRAs