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What have we learned and what can we do about NPS?

Oscar D'Agnone (Medical Director, CRI, London, UK AND Honorary Professor, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Institute of Brain Behaviour and Mental Health, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK)

Drugs and Alcohol Today

ISSN: 1745-9265

Article publication date: 2 March 2015




The purpose of this paper is to describe and summarize the recent emergence of NPS onto the drug market. To show the international and national responses, legal and guidance. To indicate some of the challenges NPS present to jurisdictions. To indicate some of the challenges NPS present to treatment agencies. To outline what is known about prevalence and effects.


A narrative account of the substances becoming known and the response made by jurisdictions.


The use and effects of NPS are slowly becoming known and exchanged between jurisdictions and treatment agencies. The user group appears to differ from the “traditional” substance users groups with which agencies are familiar. The use of the internet is a characteristic of this new market and user group.

Research limitations/implications

New substances are constantly being identified. Previous treatment approaches may not be fully relevant to NPS. The new area of cognition enhancement is being gradually realized.

Practical implications

Treatment agencies need to develop new approaches, both to treat the effects of NPS use and to attract NPS users, who do not identify as “drug users”.

Social implications

A new user group appears to be emerging. Cognition enhancement is a feature of NPS composition and use/attraction.


An attempt to summarize existing understanding of NPS use and marketing and to predict future trends and needs.



D'Agnone, O. (2015), "What have we learned and what can we do about NPS?", Drugs and Alcohol Today, Vol. 15 No. 1, pp. 28-37.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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