Use of Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPSs) of Natural Origin in the United Kingdom Population 2022

Elena Deligianni, Lisa Lione, Georgios Papazisis

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In the last decade, there has been an emerging threat to public health due to the increase of recreational use of novel
psychoactive substances (NPSs) that are mostly derived or modified from natural products. There is an urgent need for
regulatory authorities, governments and scientific experts to tackle this issue.
The aim of this pharmacoepidemiological study was to investigate in the UK population the use of natural NPSs and the
perception of potential associated health risks.
The Bristol Online Survey was distributed on the Bluelight drug forum, social media pages and via University emails during 1
July and 17 November 2018. For the data analysis, the SPSS software was used (IBM SPSS version 26).
207 UK responses were received from which 76 (36.7%) were users. The main motivations for natural NPSs use were “to
experience something new and different” (70.1%) and “to fight depression/anxiety symptoms” (53.2%); 90% of users reported
satisfaction after the use of natural NPSs. The most preferred natural NPS was magic mushrooms (psilocybin, 92%) often
combined with cannabis (69%); with the most favourable place for taking them being outdoors in nature (67%). More than half
of the users (56.6%) have stopped using natural NPSs in the past; one out of two users stated that they could not function
normally throughout the day whilst taking natural NPSs. The majority (67.5%) believed that there is no risk or just a low risk by
consuming their favourite natural NPSs when only 19 % stated that there is medium or high risk. Gender, age, employment,
smoking frequency and religion significantly affected (P<0.001) natural NPSs use. Male respondents, middle-aged, habitual
smokers, atheists and agnostics but also frequent alcohol consumers represented the majority of natural NPSs users as well as
the employed, the unable to work (due to disability/accident) and retired groups.
UK users’ low perception of natural NPSs safety profile and intoxication risks indicates a need for enhanced prevention
interventions through education and drug policy updates.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2022
EventEACPT Hybrid Meeting – Clinical pharmacology - Athens, Athens, Greece
Duration: 25 Jun 202228 Jun 2022


ConferenceEACPT Hybrid Meeting – Clinical pharmacology


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