Purpose of review
New psychoactive substances refer to emerging substances that have appeared on the market and are not under international control. NPS have been categorized in different main groups (e.g. synthetic cannabinoids, synthetic cathinones, phenethylamines, piperazines, ketamine and phencyclidine-type substances, tryptamines). This article reviews the recent literature regarding emerging trends of NPS in Europe.
According to the last report of the European Union Early warning system (EWS), 73 NPS were officially identified for the first time. The more frequent NPS self-reported or detected are synthetic cannabinoids and cathinones. A combination of different NPS and also mixed with other drugs, mainly cannabis and ecstasy, is usual among experienced drug users. Acute NPS toxicity includes significant psychoactive and sympathomimetic effects.
This article summarizes new European epidemiological and clinical data published between January and December 2013 on NPS. In the last few years, there has been a rapid increase in the number of NPS launched on the European drugs market. The presence of some of these new substances has been detected through surveys/questionnaires, studies in drug samples and biological fluids, and case reports and NPS-induced fatalities.