OBJECTIVE: The aim of the study was to prospectively assess whether regular use of synthetic cannabinoids (SCs) affects the duration of opioid-related withdrawal and craving symptoms in patients undergoing drug detoxification treatments. METHODS: Patients (n = 193) with opioid use disorder, among which 47 patients are regularly using SCs, underwent integrated drug detoxification therapies. The Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale and a specific visual analogue scale were used to assess opioid withdrawal and craving symptoms over time. RESULTS: Subjects using SCs had significantly longer duration of withdrawal and craving symptoms (p < .001). Higher intake of SCs in the last 30 days (p = .045), shorter time since the last intake of SCs (p = .033), longer duration of SCs use (p < .001), and higher dosage of SCs (p < .001) were associated with longer duration of symptoms. DISCUSSION: This is the first study to assess the impact of SCs on the course of opioid withdrawal and craving symptoms. The results (a) suggest that patients with opioid use disorder in combination with regular use of SCs exhibit a significantly longer duration of opioid withdrawal and craving symptoms, (b) add to the accumulating evidence showing clinical and molecular cross talks between cannabinoids and opioids, and (c) underline novel harmful effects of SCs
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