Home > New psychoactive substances: health and social responses.

European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. (2021) New psychoactive substances: health and social responses. Lisbon: European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.

External website: https://www.emcdda.europa.eu/publications/mini-gui...


The new psychoactive substances miniguide provides an overview of what to consider when planning or delivering health and social responses to stimulant-related problems and reviews the available interventions and their effectiveness. It also considers implications for policy and practice.

This miniguide is one of a larger set, which together comprise Health and social responses to drug problems: a European guide 2021. The guide supports practitioners and policymakers in tackling the negative consequences of drug use.

Key issues

New psychoactive substances may be purchased from online retailers and social media platforms or sometimes from high street suppliers, and in some cases they may be marketed as ‘legal’ replacements for illicit drugs. However, a number of countries have introduced regulations to limit their availability and open sale. This means that in some countries their sale on the open market has become less common, while at the same time their availability on the illicit drug market has grown. New psychoactive substances are also sold alongside controlled substances on illicit drug markets, often in combination with, or as, other better-known controlled substances, meaning that those using them may be unaware of what they are consuming.

Since around 2008, there has been a great increase in the availability of new psychoactive substances in Europe. As the range of new substances and products has grown, so have the groups of people who use them. Initially, most people who used new psychoactive substances were those seeking novel experiences and effects (often called ‘psychonauts’), as well as groups such as electronic dance music fans and clubbers.

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