Project aims to help those kicking synthetic cannabis

Otago Polytechnic third-year nursing student Katie Officer (21) and Senior Sergeant Chris...
Otago Polytechnic third-year nursing student Katie Officer (21) and Senior Sergeant Chris McLellan with a brochure designed to help those wanting to give up synthetic cannabis. Photo by Linda Robertson.

An initiative started by a pair of Otago Polytechnic students to help those wanting to quit their synthetic cannabis habit is gaining national interest.

Katie Officer and Katie Macleod created synthetic cannabis resources for Dunedin youth as part of the third-year nursing students' primary health course.

While on work placement at the Otago Youth Wellness Trust, the pair noticed there was no information for synthetic cannabis users.

''From there, it just blossomed into a massive project,'' Miss Officer said.

As a result, their work had evolved into a pocket-sized brochure with the working title ''No Zombies'' - the title a nod to how synthetic cannabis users became ''quite vacant'' when using the product, she said.

''So, we're hoping that the resource which arms people with information around synthetic cannabinoids can offer support so we don't end up with a `Zombie Apocalypse' when these substances are no longer available.''

''This stuff is awful. I did an online survey and no-one had anything nice to say about it, but they did it because it was legal and available. It ruins people's lives.''

Other agencies such as the police, Ministry of Health and the National Poisons Centre had been enlisted to help with the resources, with a website also likely, she said.

Senior Sergeant Chris McLellan, who worked with the students during their project, applauded the local initiative.

''Their work has the potential to make a real contribution to the lives of those struggling with this substance, and for those trying to help them.''

- hamish.mcneilly@odt.co.nz

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