University of Hertfordshire

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)731-737
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent neuropharmacology
Early online date12 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2017


BACKGROUND: Evolutionary research on drug abuse has hitherto been restricted to proximate studies, considering aetiology, mechanism, and ontogeny. However, in order to explain the recent emergency of a new behavioral pattern (e.g. 'the e-psychonaut style') of novel psychoactive substances' (NPS) intake, a complementary evolutionary model may be needed.

OBJECTIVE: A range of evolutionary interpretations on the 'psychonaut style' and the recent emergency of NPS were here considered.

METHOD: The PubMed database was searched in order to elicit evolutionary theory-based documents commenting on NPS/NPS users/e-psychonauts.

RESULTS: The traditional 'shamanic style' use of entheogens/plant-derived compounds may present with a range of similarities with the 'e-psychonauts' use of mostly of hallucinogen/psychedelic NPS. These users consider themselves as 'new/technological' shamans.

CONCLUSION: Indeed, a range of evolutionary mechanisms, such as: optimal foraging, costly signaling, and reproduction at the expense of health may all cooperate to explain the recent spread and diffusion of the NPS market, and this may represent a reason of concern.


This document is the Accepted Manuscript version of a published work that appeared in final form in Current neuropharmacology after peer review and technical editing by the publisher. Under embargo until 31 December 2018. The Version of Record is available online at doi:

ID: 12164268