The use of new psychoactive substances (NPS) in young people and their role in mental health care: a systematic review

Laura Orsolini, Stephania Chiappini, John Corkery, Amira Guirguis, Duccio Papanti, Fabrizio Schifano

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
64 Downloads (Pure)


Introduction: Over the past 10 years, a large number of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) have entered the recreational drug scenario. NPS intake has been associated with health-related risks, and especially so for vulnerable populations such as the youngsters. Currently, most knowledge on the NPS health effects is learnt from both a range of users’ reports, made available through the psychonauts’ web fora, and from the few published, related toxicity, clinical observations. Areas covered: This paper aims at providing an overview of NPS effects on youngsters’ mental health, whilst performing a systematic review of the current related knowledge. Expert opinion: NPS consumption poses serious health risks, due to both a range of unpredictable clinical pharmacological properties and the typical concomitant use of other psychoactive molecules; overall, this can lead to near misses and fatalities. In comparison with adults, the central nervous system of children/adolescents may be more vulnerable to the activity of these molecules, hence raising even further the levels of health-related concerns. More research is needed to provide evidence of both short- and long-term effects of NPS, related health risks, and their addiction potential.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1253-1264
Number of pages12
JournalExpert Review of Neurotherapeutics
Issue number12
Early online date24 Sept 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2019


  • NPS
  • mental health
  • novel psychoactive substances
  • youngsters
  • ‘legal highs’


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