University of Hertfordshire

From the same journal

By the same authors


  • Norbert Scherbaum
  • Friedrich Seiffert
  • Fabrizio Schifano
  • Michael Specka
  • Udo Bonnet
  • Stefan Bender
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Original languageEnglish
JournalProgress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry
Early online date19 Oct 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Oct 2020


Background: Over the last 15 years, a large number of new psychoactive substances (NPS) has been identified, with their use being associated with a range of acute medical and psychopathological complications. Conversely, NPS addictive liability levels have not been systematically assessed in clinical populations. Aims of the study: Investigating the lifetime and current prevalence of NPS use in a sample of substance use disorder (SUD) patients admitted to an inpatient detoxification treatment centre. Methods: Assessment of previous/current NPS intake carried out with the means of standardised questionnaire based on the European version of Addiction Severity Index. Results: Some 206 patients (males 77.1%; average age: 30.7 years-old; most typical diagnosis: opioid/polydrug dependence) participated to the survey. Roughly half (e.g. 111/206; 53.9%) of them reported a lifetime use of NPS, most typically synthetic cannabinoids. Conversely, the current prevalence of NPS use was 2.9%; no NPS dependence condition was diagnosed. Among NPS users, 56.3% reported severe side-effects such as heavy anxiety or psychotic experience, and 64% reported an aversion of ever using the respective NPS again, whilst 84.3% of those reporting a single NPS intake reported an aversion. Discussion: The sharp contrast between lifetime prevalence of NPS use and prevalence of current use might be explained by the high frequency of severe side effects reported by NPS users.

ID: 22884207