These new psychoactive substances (NPS) have been known in the market by terms such as “designer drugs”, legal highs”, “herbal highs”, “bath salts”, “research chemicals”, “laboratory reagents”. To promote clear terminology on thisissue, UNODC only uses the term “new psychoactive substances (NPS)” which are defined as “substances of abuse, either in a pure form or a preparation, that are not controlled by the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs or the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, but which may pose a public health threat”. The term “new” does not necessarily refer to new inventions - several NPS were first synthesized 40 years ago - but to substances that have recently emerged on the market and which have not been scheduled under the above Conventions.
What are the risks of NPS?
The use of NPS is often linked to health problems. NPS users have frequently been hospitalized with severe intoxications. There have also been a number of unexplained suicides associated with preceding use of synthetic cannabinoids (Spice). In addition, substances like 4-methylmethcathinone (mephedrone), methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), 4-methylamphetamine (4-MA) have been associated with fatalities.
How widespread are NPS?
According to the UNODC report “The challenge of new psychoactive substances”, NPS have become a global phenomenon and all regions of the world have been affected by it. 70 (out of 80) countries and territories surveyed (88%) reported the emergence of NPS.
How many NPS are there?
UNODC research found more than 250 substances, including ketamine, which were reported by Governments and laboratories around the world. This figure is greater than the 234 substances scheduled under the international drugs conventions. In February 2013, five new substances were reported by drug analysis laboratories. Technically, the number of potential derivatives is unlimited. As long as there is no global monitoring mechanism on such substances, information on them willremain inconsistent.
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