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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2015 Dec 1;157:1-17. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2015.09.030. Epub 2015 Oct 9.

Next generation of novel psychoactive substances on the horizon - A complex problem to face.

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Department of Pharmacodynamics, Medical University of Lodz, Poland. Electronic address:
Department of Pharmacodynamics, Medical University of Lodz, Poland.



The last decade has seen a rapid and continuous growth in the availability and use of novel psychoactive substances (NPS) across the world. Although various products are labeled with warnings "not for human consumption", they are intended to mimic psychoactive effects of illicit drugs of abuse. Once some compounds become regulated, new analogues appear in order to satisfy consumers' demands and at the same time to avoid criminalization. This review presents updated information on the second generation of NPS, introduced as replacements of the already banned substances from this class, focusing on their pharmacological properties and metabolism, routes of administration, and effects in humans.


Literature search, covering years 2013-2015, was performed using the following keywords alone or in combination: "novel psychoactive substances", "cathinones", "synthetic cannabinoids", "benzofurans", "phenethylamines", "2C-drugs", "NBOMe", "methoxetamine", "opioids", "toxicity", and "metabolism".


More than 400 NPS have been reported in Europe, with 255 detected in 2012-2014. The most popular are synthetic cannabimimetics and psychostimulant cathinones; use of psychedelics and opioids is less common. Accumulating experimental and clinical data indicate that potential harms associated with the use of second generation NPS could be even more serious than those described for the already banned drugs.


NPS are constantly emerging on the illicit drug market and represent an important health problem. A significant amount of research is needed in order to fully quantify both the short and long term effects of the second generation NPS, and their interaction with other drugs of abuse.


Cathinones; Methoxetamine; NBOMe compounds; Novel psychoactive substances; Opioids; Psychedelics; Psychostimulants; Synthetic cannabimimetics

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