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New psychoactive substances: A toolkit for substance misuse commissioners

Increasing numbers of new drugs are causing harm, have been linked to deaths, and are driving public and media concern. These drugs, known as new psychoactive substances (NPS), and often misleadingly referred to as ‘legal highs’, pose a challenge to government, local authorities healthcare services and the criminal justice system.

According to the European Monitoring Centre for Drug and Drug Addiction’s (EMCDDA), the number of NPS detected in Europe is rising. However, available data on the actual use of these drugs is limited. Reported use of NPS remains lower than use of many traditional illicit drugs, and the use of mephedrone, the most common NPS, has significantly reduced.