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.
- mental health
- novel psychoactive substances
- ‘legal highs’