New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), represents a very large group of molecules essentially synthetics, characterized by pharmacological and toxicological properties particularly dangerous to consumers’ health. The appearance of NPS in recent years, is a phenomenon of huge dimensions affecting several countries worldwide, including Italy, representing an emerging problem at the international level, so that the United Nations, the International Narcotics Control Board and the European Union are devoting great attention to what is presented as a new threat to public health.
Since 2009, the National Early Warning System on Drugs of the Department for Antidrug Policy, Presidency of the Council of Ministers, has performed a constant monitoring of the occurrence of NPS on the Italian territory. Through notifications from the collaborating centers of the National Early Warning System (laboratories, emergency rooms, forensic toxicology labs, law enforcement, poison control centers, etc.) and by the European Monitoring Center on Drugs and Drug Addiction in Lisbon, this activity has led to the registration of more than 360 new psychoactive substances, including synthetic cannabinoids and cathinones, phenethylamines, piperazines, tryptamines, etc.
In Italy, the National Early Warning System also registered about 70 cases of acute intoxications related to NPS consumption that required intensive care at the emergency room. Also of note, the increased use of date-rape drugs, affecting especially the female population.
Below the informative sheets for each structural group of NPS are reported, with a brief description of what they are, the effects they produce, the legal status in Italy and some examples of chemical structure to represent the most common molecules circulating at national and European territory.
- Synthetic cannabinoids
- Synthetic cathinones
- Ketamine and analogues