The unprecedented proliferation of novel psychoactive substances (NPS) in the illicit drug market has been a public health concern since their emergence in the 2000s. Their consumption can pose severe health risks as their mechanism of action is poorly understood and their level of toxicity is high mainly due to the diffusion of very potent synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists and synthetic opioids. This study systemically analyses the evolution of the scientific literature on NPS to gain a better understanding of the areas of major research interests and how they interlink. Findings indicate that the published evidence covers clusters focused on classes of NPS that have received widespread media attention, such as mephedrone and fentanyl, and have largely been concerned with the pharmacological and the toxicological profiles of these substances. This scientometric perspective also provides greater insight into the knowledge gaps within this new and rapidly growing field of study and highlights the need for an interdisciplinary approach in tackling the NPS epidemic.