New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) can be called “new” because they are newly developed chemical or organic compounds. They are often produced in illegal laboratories. At first, these new drugs will not yet be controlled by national or international law. However; “new” substances can also be existing drugs which are ‘rediscovered’ and newly made available on the illegal drug market. Or they may be used in new ways: some drugs used in medicine are nowadays (also) being used in recreational settings. NPS are often synthetic, but can also be plant-based. They are mostly referred to as ‘legal highs’ (not always correctly!), ‘designer drugs’, or ‘research chemicals’.
NPS are mostly developed as an ‘imitation’ of an existing controlled substance, designed to mimic the effects of the original drug, while avoiding both classification as an illegal substance and/or detection in standard drug tests.
The safety of these substances has not been evaluated in animal and human trials. Because of this, little is known about the exact effects, the dosage and the consequences of the use of most of these drugs. Their usage can result in unexpected and dangerous side effects. It always pays to be extra carefull with these new drugs.
There are hundreds of different drugs that are called NPS, and new drugs are developed almost every week. There are several ways to devide these drugs into groups. One of those is the ‘Drugs Wheel‘, developed by the UK based DrugWatch association, based on UK legistalation. For this website, we use a similiar approach: