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The use of synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists (SCRAs) within the homeless population: Motivations, harms and the implications for developing an appropriate response

Gray, Paul and Ralphs, Rob and Williams, Lisa (2020) The use of synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists (SCRAs) within the homeless population: Motivations, harms and the implications for developing an appropriate response. Addiction Research and Theory. ISSN 1476-7392

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Abstract

Synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists (SCRAs) have become increasingly associated with a range of physical, mental health and societal harms. In response, several countries have introduced legislation aimed at restricting the supply and use of SCRAs. While these legislative changes have led to a decrease in SCRA use within the general population, SCRAs remain popular within vulnerable populations, in particular the homeless. Drawing on 84 face-to-face interviews (with 53 homeless users of SCRAs, and 31 key stakeholders), this article presents the first in-depth qualitative study of SCRA use within the homeless population. It highlights the distinct set of motivations for SCRA use within this population, along with the specific harms associated with their use. In doing so, this article makes an important and timely contribution to the current evidence base and discourse on how governments and service providers should respond to SCRA use within the homeless population. The article concludes by arguing that the most appropriate way to address the continued use of SCRAs within the homeless population is through the development of a more appropriate service response rather than further legislative change.

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