Synthetic cannabinoid use disorder: an update for general psychiatrists

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Objective: Synthetic cannabinoid use disorder is emerging as a significant clinical issue. This article provides the general psychiatrist with an overview of the physical and psychiatric adverse effects of chronic synthetic cannabinoid use, as well as specific clinical responses. Method: We performed electronic searches of Ovid MEDLINE and Ovid Embase to identify key articles, of all methodological designs, published up to June 2018. Results: The available evidence suggests that, compared to cannabis, use of synthetic cannabinoids is associated with the more rapid development of dependence, increased psychiatric risks and complex withdrawal, and serious physical adverse effects that include seizures, cardiotoxicity and death, denoting a potential need for more intensive management. Conclusion: When synthetic cannabinoid use is identified, along with management of acute physical and psychiatric adverse effects, psychotherapeutic strategies to reduce use and/or harm are recommended.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to) 279–283
Number of pages5
JournalAustralasian Psychiatry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019


  • dependence
  • novel psychoactive substances
  • synthetic cannabinoids

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