Sensationalist headlines are scattered across the media, instilling panic and distress in order to promote online traffic through ‘clickbait’. With people often reading just the headline or the first couple of sentences of an article, unclear and incorrect messages can easily spread and influence.
One such topic that has succumbed to these panic headlines is the group of drugs known as Spice, the collective street name for the category of synthetic cannabinoid drugs. Spice goes by many different street names including 24K Monkey, Hush and Zapper.
Over the last ten years the nature of the synthetic cannabinoids on sale across the UK, have changed, as has the law relating to them. As the nature of the drug has changed, so have the types of people drawn to using them. Originally the (so called) second generation of synthetic cannabinoids available between 2009 and 2013, were popular with younger users, perhaps due to enticing marketing, colourful packaging and its and its legality.
Synthetic cannabinoids work in similar parts of the brain and body to THC the psychoactive ingredient in plant based cannabis however, it’s effects are different.. Since 2017 all synthetic cannabinoids are class B drugs, which means possession is illegal.
What is available now, often referred to as ‘fourth generation’ synthetic cannabinoids, is much stronger and more dangerous than previous iterations. They are much more dissociative than other cannabinoids and thus, use has become prevalent amongst the most marginalised sections of our society, whilst more recreational users have turned away from them.
Spice is usually smoked and effects can be very unpredictable with many users suffering a range of serious effects including loss of consciousness, and heart problems.
Across the summer of 2018 and in collaboration with Sheffield City Council and other partners, Waypoint Training provided guidance to local agencies on how to respond to the use of Spice within the city centre. This training was delivered to around 400 front-line agency staff including social workers, emergency services and NHS staff. During the research phase of teaching development, local Spice users were interviewed, here is one of their accounts:
“If I could stop I would. I hate the hold it has on me. I lose whole days, sometimes weeks. It scares me. Some people tell me they stay away from me because of Spice and I don’t like to hear that. It’s much worse than heroin or crack for withdrawals. I can’t handle the withdrawals – not sleeping, being paranoid, stomach pain and pain in my legs. I’m definitely addicted”
Sheffield Spice User
So how can you make a difference? What if you are faced with someone who appears under the influence or you suspect is in immediate danger, what steps should you take?
Waypoint Training have developed training specifically designed for front-line agencies who work with vulnerable adults to give them a clear and concise understanding of Spice and its effects. With learning objectives covering the Law around Spice through to myth busting common beliefs and assumptions. Waypoint are able to use the latest findings teamed with facilitator knowledge to provide interactive, compelling training sessions.
Street Names for Spice
The History of Spice
First-hand Account of Spice Use.