Psychiatric symptoms and synthetic cannabinoid use: Information for clinicians

Gary Sweet, Sara Kim, Samuel Martin, Nicole B. Washington, Nancy Brahm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Limited treatment information is available when patients present with psychotic symptoms secondary to synthetic cannabinoid (SC) use. Symptoms associated with use are often indistinguishable from those encountered with a primary mental illness and also include aggression, confusion, and anxiety. For these patients, clinicians rely on physical presentation, symptom(s) onset, and episode duration when evaluating patients. Patient History: An adult man was involuntarily admitted to inpatient status secondary to reports of bizarre behaviors that included paranoia and psychomotor agitation. Because of the severity of the symptoms, he was unable to participate in the admission assessment. On day 2, he reported having smoked a substance provided by a friend. In addition, he admitted to previous SC use on 3 occasions, with each occasion resulting in an involuntary admission to inpatient status. The course of this admission was unremarkable. Conclusions: A brief overview of psychiatric signs and symptoms of SC use and information to help clinicians are included. The presentation of psychotic symptoms secondary to SC may be consistent with those of psychosis or other substances of abuse. Because of the variability in the symptoms produced by SC use, clinicians are encouraged to consider SC use in the diagnostic evaluation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-159
Number of pages4
JournalMental Health Clinician
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2017


  • K2
  • cannabinoid
  • cannabis
  • herbal incense
  • intoxication
  • legal high
  • marijuana alternative
  • psychosis


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