New Psychoactive Substances – DAWG JUNE 2014

New Psychoactive
Aims and Objectives
Club Drug
Conclusions Q&A
New Psychoactive Substances or Legal Highs.
Specifically, a legal high is a chemical which is:
(a) not controlled by the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act;
(b) not licensed for legal use (like alcohol and tobacco);
(c) not advertised/sold – and therefore not regulated - as a medicine
(Medicines Act 1968) “plant food – not for human consumption”
For example, use of the term ‘NPS’ allows us to avoid the confusion which
currently exists in relation to drugs like mephedrone (meow/m-cat), which was
banned by the UK government in April 2010 - but it is still referred to as a ‘legal
high’ by some sources (notably the mass media).
 Legal highs: uncontrolled, but can be new drugs (eg. 5-EAPB new Benzofury) or
older drugs (e.g.. nitrous oxide)
 NPS: new, but can be uncontrolled (eg. 5-EAPB) or controlled (eg. 6-APB old
On the Increase…………..
EMCDDA says it is struggling - 81 new psychoactive substances were seen for the
first time in 2013 up from the 2012 figure of 73. A total of over 350 now being
Monitoring identified 651 websites selling “legal” – Free Samples around 250 such
shops in the UK (plus an unknown number of alternative retail outlets). People move
onto online sales to save money.
There were an estimated 1 900 mephedrone users entering treatment in the United
Kingdom in 2011/12, with more than half of them under the age of 18. Overall less
mephedrone use…..
Romania NPS was primary drug in 37 % compared to 21 % heroin.
“While mephedrone can still technically be regarded as an NPS, it has become
sufficiently embedded in the UK drug scene for its overall prevalence and other
information to be captured by national data sets. Beyond that, there is no robust
data giving a picture of patterns of NPS use across the UK” - DrugScope
Recent History
Head Shops 1990’s – Herbal highs , Salvia , Guarana, LSA,
BZP as a replacement for mdma/ecstacy from New Zealand
Legal Highs Came to public attention around 2008/09 as substances
deliberately ‘designed’ to mimic the effects of controlled drugs while at the
same time ‘designed’ to be outside the scope of the Misuse of Drugs Act.
Increased control of Precursor material.
Manufacturers look at Chemistry and the law
Global Trade in Drugs and Precursor materials
Experimentation by pharmaceutical companies Patents redeveloped, Medical
research into Cannabinoids agonists and Neuropsychopharmacolgy into
NBOMe’s Pain relief and Prescription loopholes regards Etizolam.
Dark web/smart shops
Simplicity/Paypal/bitcoin Purity, reliability
Global Capitalist markets
Sub Groups
3 Main according to Drugscope
Stimulants. Ecstacy and MDMA replacement. Mephedrone, MPDV, NRG-1, Benzo Fury, MDAI,
ethylphenidate methiopropamine. Pills can contain multiple chemicals in various proportions,
and change as and when compounds are banned. No real way of knowing content. 5-apb
now 5-eapb, doses change effects change/duration etc..
Cannabinoids Most prolific NPS - Clockwork Orange, Black Mamba, Exodus Damnation, spice
some can contain multiple blends of synthetics agonists, constantly changing.
SCs are 2 to 3 times more likely than cannabis to produce sympathomimetic effects
(tachycardia, hypertension), and 5 times more likely to produce hallucinations – with an
increased risk of seizures. “No antidote exists”
Hallucinogens; NBOMe-series. (Methoxetamine (MXE) Diphenidine, methoxphenidine)
Other Groups
Opiates – Ah 7921 banned W-15-7 and W-19, both potent µ-opioid
agonists have also been seen. O-desmethyl tramadol now
controlled. Bromodol still available 504x potency morphine.
“serenity”. Fentanyl Analogues available online Carfentanyl 0.1g –
10000 doses. Kratom can be bought on ebay.
Benzodiazepines. Phenazepam (banned) Etizolam, Diclazepam,
Flubromazepam. Young people taking risks irrational decisions poly
Cognitive Enhancers – Racetams, Adderall, - “limitless”!!!
Club Drugs
Drugs Controlled by the 1971 Misuse of Drugs act ………….
Easily available from European Smart shops
3-mmc!!! – 4-mmc is mephedrone….
Over 50 different Mephedrone type drugs have been produced.
The roundtable discussion also saw
discussion of NPS issues among groups of
vulnerable young people, particularly in
the north east, a region of high poverty,
unemployment and social deprivation.
From this, a possible profile begins to
emerge. That profile is of a vulnerable
young person living in a socially and
economically impoverished environment,
too young to be on the club drug scene
and with little in the way of disposal
income, who now has access to easily
available and (ostensibly) legal
substances with which to get intoxicated.
This profile has distinct echoes of the glue
sniffing epidemic of the 1980s.
Availability/Peer Pressure
Home Office has established the Drug Early Warning System (DEWS)
which aims to link various national and international partners to share
information about emerging NPS trends.
Forensic Early Warning System (FEWS) which is concerned primarily with
testing NPS via test purchasing, police seizures etc….
DrugWatch has been mentioned and there are plans to try and establish
more localised informal networks that potentially could feed information
up to a central hub (like DrugWatch) and on to bodies like the ACMD,
Public Health England’s National Intelligence Network, ACPO drugs
committee and other networks.
Wedinos - Welsh Emerging Drugs and Identification of Novel Substances
Models Of Control
New Zealand
European Laws
The Psychoactive Substances Act
2013. It allows the legal sale of
psychoactive substances .
legislation in Ireland 2010 effectively
banning head shops, much of the
trade has shifted online and onto
the street.
Thursday, 8 May. All products
removed, producers need to
prove they are safe before sale.
Poland Modified “consumer
Protection laws” and redefined
Health Policies.
Austria Uses Medicine Licence Laws
protected criminalising users but
stopped the retail market.
Latvia and Bulgaria; Analogue
system: legislation includes a more
general definition of ‘similarity in
pharmacological activity’, as well as
‘similarity in chemical structure’.
Animal Testing
Party Pills – “26 million pills
consumed by 400’000 consumers
on 10.5 million occasions” No long
term harm caused, People
enjoyed them.
UK Policy addictions…
June 2013 - NBOMe, a related drug to the hallucinogen 2CI, and
'Benzo Fury', a related drug to ecstasy, given TCDOs.
July 2013 - Classification of khat, a herbal stimulant, as a Class C
drug announced. (JUNE 24th)
December 2013 – Home Office announce that they will accept the
advice of the ACMD and make NBOMe a Class A drug - 10 June
2014 alongside every other N-benzyl phenethylamine and
Benzofuran Class B.
Problems with NPS/Legal Highs
Headshops/websites cannot give out information about the safer use of the drugs they sell
No testing/trials of risks & harms of NPS sold
No guarantee that different batches of same product will contain (a) same dose of drug, or (b)
even same drug
Huge variety of NPS available, with different chemical/ trade/slang names, making drug/health
service responses & research work very difficult.
Fear Based Mass Media
Twice as many people die every day as a result of alcohol than die in a whole year as a result of
legal highs. This is political expediency compiled with media hysteria.
17 out the 68 deaths blamed on legal highs were due to PMA and a further three linked to PMMA,
substances now commonly sold as Ecstasy which have been outlawed in the UK since 1977. Only
11 actually attributed to NPS alone. Included were DNP sliming aid and anabolic steroids.
The Drugs may be changing but the needs of service users are not
Involve them in planning. How do we support users?
More Powerful drugs used at earlier age
Clarity on definitions
UK law not working
More Analogues of analogues
Decriminalise Users
For Further Information……
Gary Henderson, Journal of Forensic Science 1988
“In the view of this author, it is likely that the future drugs of abuse will be synthetics
rather than
plant products. They will be synthesized from readily available chemicals, may be
derivatives of
pharmaceuticals, will be very potent, and often very selective in their action. In
addition, they will be marketed very cleverly.”
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