University of Hertfordshire

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Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychological Medicine
Journal publication date22 Jul 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Jul 2019


Background: The present paper provides an updated review of both the large number of new/novel/emerging psychoactive substances (NPS) and their associated psychopathological consequences. Focus was here given on identification of those NPS being commented in specialised online sources and the related short-/long-term psychopathological and medical ill-health effects.
Methods: NPS have been identified through an innovative crawling/navigating software, called the ‘NPS.Finder®’, created in order to facilitate the process of early recognition of NPS online. A range of information regarding NPS, including chemical and street names; chemical formula; three-dimensional image; and anecdotally reported clinical/psychoactive effects, were here made available.
Results: Using the ‘NPS.Finder®’ approach, a few thousands NPS were here preliminarily identified, a number which is about 4-fold higher than those figures suggested by European and international drug agencies. NPS most commonly associated with the onset of psychopathological consequences included here synthetic cannabinoids/cannabimimetics; new synthetic opioids; ketamine-like dissociatives; novel stimulants; novel psychedelics; and several prescription and over-the-counter medicines.
Conclusions: The ever-increasing changes in terms of recreational psychotropics’ availability represents a relatively new challenge for psychiatry, as the pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics of many NPS have not been thoroughly understood. Health/mental health professionals should be informed about the range of NPS; their intake modalities; their psychoactive sought-after effects; the idiosyncratic psychotropics’ combinations; and finally their medical and psychopathological risks.


Submitted 24 November 2018, Revised 18 June 2019, Accepted 26 June 2019, Published online 22 July 2019

ID: 17012583