Novel psychoactive substances of interest for psychiatry

Fabrizio Schifano, Laura Orsolini, Duccio Papanti, John Corkery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

159 Citations (Scopus)
254 Downloads (Pure)


Novel psychoactive substances include synthetic cannabinoids, cathinone derivatives, psychedelic phenethylamines, novel stimulants, synthetic opioids, tryptamine derivatives, phencyclidine-like dissociatives, piperazines, GABA-A/B receptor agonists, a range of prescribedmedications, psychoactive plants/herbs, and a large series of performance and image enhancing drugs. Users are typically attracted by these substances due to their intense psychoactive effects and likely lack of detection in routine drug screenings. This paper aims at providing psychiatrists with updated knowledge of the clinical pharmacology and psychopathological consequences of the use of these substances. Indeed, these drugs act on a range of neurotransmitter pathways/receptors whose imbalance has been associated with psychopathological conditions, including dopamine, cannabinoid CB1, GABA-A/B, 5-HT2A, glutamate, and k opioid receptors. An overall approach in terms of clinical management is briefly discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-26
Number of pages12
JournalWorld Psychiatry : official journal of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015


  • Novel psychoactive substances, Internet, Persian language, Online marketing
  • legal highs
  • psychiatry


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