Explore How the Increasing Use of Synthetic Cannabinoid Containing Products (Sccps) Also Known as 'Herbal Highs' Is Impacting on the Treatment of the Seriously Mentally Ill in New Zealand.

Explore how the increasing use of synthetic cannabinoid containing products (SCCPs) also known as 'herbal highs' is impacting on the treatment of the seriously mentally ill in New Zealand.

It will examine how well mental health services are responding to this new challenge and whether there are innovative emerging perspectives on what should now be done differently due this problem.

This study is an attempt to look at the increasing use of synthetic cannabinoid containing products by people with serious mental health problems and the subsequent effects on their recovery. Due to the paucity of existing research available in New Zealand presently and due to the great concern internationally it will also examine literature from around the world in relation to the research initiative. Furthermore as this a relatively new and emerging area of research the literature around SCCPs is sparse but generally contemporaneous. The literature examined so far appears to support the opinion that the rapid uptake of SCCPS by the seriously mentally ill may well increase rates of relapse and intensify the severity of psychotic symptoms thereby experienced.


It has been well established that people with psychotic disorders have more than average rates of cannabis use in comparison to the population in general, this, in turn, is related to poorer functional and clinical outcomes (Degenhardt et al, 2003). Cannabis use is very much connected to an increased severity of psychotic symptomology with such effects reportedly found up to four years after (Linszen et al, 1994). The misuse of Cannabis has also been associated with up to quadruple the chance of a psychotic relapse and has emerged as the strongest predictor of relapse over twelve months in comparison to an assortment of other risk factors, including adherence to medication, duration of the untreated psychosis, both acute and chronic stress states, and expressed emotion (Linszen et al, 1994).

This group of...