University of Hertfordshire

By the same authors

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Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 9 Apr 2019
EventVI International conference on Novel Psychoactive Substances - University of Maastricht, Maastricht, Netherlands
Duration: 8 Apr 20199 Apr 2019


ConferenceVI International conference on Novel Psychoactive Substances
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Background: The risk of potential harms prompted the UK government to introduce The Psychoactive Substances Act (PSA) in 2016. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of this new legislation on patterns of NPS use, motivations and risk awareness in a self-selected sample of UK consumers to inform education and policy.
Methods: The Bristol Online Survey was advertised on the Bluelight drug forum and social media Facebook pages and University email between 7 January and 7 February 2015 (168 responses) and 9 March to 18 September 2017 (726 responses). UK country of residence responses were extracted for analysis (SPSS).
Results: In a predominantly University-educated self-selecting sample, one year after introduction of the legislation, NPS awareness and NPS use (in males, under 18s, those educated to school/college level) has increased, whilst health risk awareness has not changed and remains poor. Users are switching to sourcing NPS via the darknet and showing an increase in preference for a range of herbal natural NPS, such as Salvia divinorum. The main reasons for NPS use remain the influence of friends in a social setting, to ‘get high’ usually in combination with alcohol, cannabis or ecstasy
Conclusions: Regulation alone, so far, has not impacted on health risk awareness, NPS drug demand and culture in our UK survey sample. Alongside regulation, NPS health promotion education (particularly in schools and colleges) is needed that addresses resilience and both the risks and beneficial effects of NPS.

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