Nps

Nps

The last decade has seen the introduction of a wide variety
of New Psychoactive Substances on the market
as a legal alternative to illicit drugs.

They are sold through various ways of distribution, such as Internet, smart shops, head shops, or a street-level drug dealing. Also known as ‘legal highs’, “designer drugs”, “research chemicals” and “bath salts”, NPS chemical composition is often unknown, and represents a great matter of concern in terms of public health and safety. The definition of NPS at the international level includes “substances of abuse, either in a pure form or a preparation, that are not controlled by the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs or the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, but which may pose a public health threat” (Council of the European Union decision 2005/387/JHA). As UNODC points out in the explanatory note to the 2014 Global Synthetic Drugs Assessment, the term “new” does not necessarily refer to new molecules or chemical structures, as NPS usually use molecules analysed in the past by pharmacology, but for compounds that have recently emerged on the market and are sold as “bath salts”, incenses, natural products, which imitate effects of illicit drugs and are difficult to be controlled.

Finally, a useful way of classifyng drugs can be provided by discerning NPS on the basis of their main effects, as suggested by Drugs-forum.

UNODC includes the following substances among the NPS:

  • Aminoindanes 
  • Synthetic cannabinoids
  • Synthetic cathinones
  • Ketamine and Phencyclidine-type substances
  • Other substances
  • Phenethylamines
  • Piperazines
  • Plant-based substances
  • Tryptamines

According to the EMCDDA, and its Early Warning System the main groups are:

  • Piperazines 
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Arylamines
  • Tryptamines
  • Opioids
  • Phenethylamines
  • Others Substances
  • Synthetic cannabinoids
  • Synthetic cathinones