Harm reduction tips

No level of synthetic cannabinoid use is safe.

But, there are certain measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of harm.

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  • Use only a small amount. It’s very hard to know the effects of synthetic cannabinoids, even if they’ve been taken before – the chemicals in these drugs are constantly changing. Taking a low dose first can help determine the effects and the strength of the drug.
  • Be cautious about synthetic cannabinoid packaging. Not all ingredients or their correct amounts might be listed, which can increase the risk of overdose. Chemicals usually vary from batch to batch, as does potency, so different packets can produce different effects, even if the packaging looks the same.
  • Only take synthetic cannabinoids in a familiar environment and in the company of people you know and trust. This may reduce any unpleasant effects and ensure you have help available if there’s a bad reaction.
  • Never take synthetic cannabinoids on its own without a ‘mixer’, such as dried parsley. Similarly, inhaling the drug-using bongs or pipes can increase the risk of an overdose or bad reaction.
  • Avoid taking in combination with alcohol or other drugs, including over the counter and prescribed medications. And specifically avoid taking with stimulant drugs such as crystal methamphetamine (ice) or cocaine.
  • The risk of tolerance and dependence on synthetic cannabinoids may be reduced by taking regular breaks from smoking the drug, and by avoiding using a lot at once.
  • Call triple zero (000) immediately if someone is experiencing negative effects such as:
  1. fast/irregular heart rate
  2. chest pain
  3. breathing difficulties
  4. severe hyperthermia
  5. delusional behaviour.

Keep the supply packet and provide it to medical professionals if a person has a bad reaction. This information may make treatment quicker and more effective. Ambulance officers do not have to involve the police unless there is a threat to their safety.31, 32

Help and support

If you’re worried about yourself or somebody’s use of synthetic cannabinoids, or other drugs, there’s support available:

National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline 1800 250 015
24-hour phoneline that offers telephone counselling, information, support and referral to treatment services for anyone seeking help for their own, or another person's, alcohol or drug use.

headspace 1800 650 890
Youth specific mental health service. headspace specialises in engaging young people with concerns relating to mental health, physical health (including sexual health), alcohol and other drugs, offering ‘face-to-face’ counselling as well as e-counselling.


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