New Psychoactive Substances

What are the New Psychoactive Substances? - NPS

Until more recently NPS (commonly known as ‘legal’ highs), were being sold generally as a mixture of chemicals that were with the active ingredients used being minor stimulants such as ephedrine or caffeine, but times have changed with a growing market for ‘party pills’ with effects like those of other illegal drugs.

Terminology varies and includes New (Novel) Psychoactive Substances (NPS) legal highs,synthetic drugs, recreational psychoactive substances, herbal highs and research chemicals.

NPS can be recognised by their brand or product name, by their chemical name or by their slang name and are generally categorised into three broad families; depressants, stimulants and psychedelic or hallucinogenic.

NPS are substances created to mimic the effects of other illegal drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy or cannabis.

Products are described as plant food, incense, pond cleaner, room odoriser, cream dispenser refills or bath salts, often having no ingredients listed on the packet.

Most substances are powders, pills/pellets with some made to resemble cannabis and look natural. NPS were being supplied in brightly coloured packets looking like sweets however since the introduction of Psychoactive Substance Act 2016 they are now in clear packaging as well. They can be sniffed, chewed, smoked, brewed, drank and swallowed.

Packaging typically includes a picture of a skull and crossbones - a sign of toxicity. Words such as ‘not for human consumption', or ‘research chemicals'.

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