Online forums a window into drug users experiences
The world of online forums gives a fascinating insight into people s lives warts and all. Topics cover everything from the relatively normal, to the weird and wonderful, from video games to Scientology to couponing and yes, illicit drugs including weed and synthetic cannabis.
Here at NCPIC, we thought we’d join the conversation and set up a forum of our own for people to discuss their experiences of using synthetic cannabis. So far we ve had an eye-opening mix of responses detailing some pretty scary stuff that users have experienced while high on synthetic cannabis. Seizures and hospitalisation are the more extreme reactions people have reported, while blanking out and feeling paranoid are other unwanted side effects. Further afield, forums based in the UK highlight the unpredictability of synthetic cannabis with many threads dedicated to giving other users tips on which brands to avoid and which are more reliable . Many posts complain about experiencing unwanted effects or no effects at all. There are even posts warning people off fraudulent suppliers who accept customers payments but never deliver the goods.
Perhaps the most interesting thing we found, is that die-hard cannabis users/promoters those people who will fight anything even remotely anti-cannabis seem to be jumping on board the anti-synthetic cannabis bandwagon. Checking out forums around the globe, we noted even many of these people are warning others away from synthetic cannabis.
So why do people keep using such an unpredictable drug?
Synthetic weed is an interesting case because it is quite rare among drug users to have such conflicting opinions and experiences about their drug of choice certainly not something we often see with botanical cannabis. In a recent survey we conducted, it became apparent that the main reasons people used synthetic weed was curiosity just wanting to see what it was like. But as one forum contributor warned, Don’t think about trying it, you aren’t sure what you are getting, it may be synthetic pot, it may be something else, it may even kill you, my friend was lucky, don’t let this happen to you.
Real-life stories from people who have used synthetic cannabis
So what s the story? What are people telling us about their real-life experiences with this drug and is it really from one extreme to the other? The answer is yes! Check it out!
One forum poster put their experiences down simply and concisely, letting everyone know, It was relaxing and uplifting , and while we did have a few others back up this experience Felt a lot more relaxed, tasted better than some illegal drugs. I have a pleasant experience using synthetic drugs and find that I enjoy the day/night a lot better, we also had quite a lot contradict it.
Our survey alone received more than 1,400 responses, around 1000 of which were from people who had tried the drug. We included an open-ended question at the end, in case people wanted to share their stories, and we were overwhelmed by more than 650 stories. What was notable, was that while definitely there were some stories of an enjoyable high, more than three-quarters of the stories described experiences that no one would want to go through again. Maybe that s why around 70% of the respondents said they wouldn t try the drug again. No other product on the market would survive long with consumer reviews like that.
On the more benign end of the scale, we had respondents and forum posters who shared messages like this one: Was definitely not worth it. Same effect but I felt strange. Not long after smoking I had a horrible headache and had to sleep the rest of the day. Not a great time. And this one: Few bad experiences. Once having a panic attack. And another time just vomited repeatedly for over 30mins. Though these are nasty experiences and certainly not what you d be hoping for when you light up, we have seen similar stories from people who have greened out when using regular cannabis.
But thats where the similarities seem to end.
On the other end of the scale, we noted that 10% of the stories directly mentioned people who either wanted to die, or felt like they were already dead (which they didn t think was a pleasant experience), The high was almost like the high you get from smoking weed intensified x5. It was so intense to the point I wanted it to stop so bad and get out of it I thought about suicide to make it stop. I ve never in my life had suicidal tendencies.
Another user commented: I could remember months prior to smoking it but nothing before that, I was scared, I couldn’t move and I kept thinking I was shi**ing myself although I wasn’t! Extreme headaches followed for days after.
And to go with the theme of losing control of bodily functions, Bought it in another state as I was on holiday and was easier to get. Mixed it far too strong and lost bladder control in middle of Melbourne in the middle of the day.
Even more extreme, we had people who reported experiencing issues with their heart and minor heart attacks, severe psychosis and seizures: Can’t remember the experience, friends thought I was dying. Was having seizures and foaming at the mouth.
So whats the deal?
Ultimately, while people may be curious to give the drug a go or may even still be confused about whether its legal or not (it isn’t!), most people had a rough experience with synthetic cannabis and decided once was more than enough! Luckily, we can learn from their mistake!