NPS: Medical Consequences Associated with Their Intake

Curr Top Behav Neurosci. 2017:32:351-380. doi: 10.1007/7854_2016_15.


Over the last decade, the 'traditional' drug scene has been supplemented - but not replaced - by the emergence of a range of novel psychoactive substances (NPS), which are either newly created or existing drugs, including medications, now being used in novel ways. By the end of 2014, in excess of 500 NPS had been reported by a large number of countries in the world. Most recent data show, however, that synthetic cathinones, synthetic cannabinoids, and psychedelics/phenethylamines account for the largest number of NPS.The present chapter aims at providing an overview of the clinical and pharmacological issues relating to these most popular NPS categories. Given the vast range of medical and psychopathological issues associated with the molecules here described, it is crucial for health professionals to be aware of the effects and toxicity of NPS. A general overview of the acute management of NPS adverse events is provided as well, although further studies are required to identify a range of evidence-based, index molecule-focused, treatment strategies. The rapid pace of change in the NPS online market constitutes a major challenge to the provision of current and reliable scientific knowledge on these substances.

Keywords: Drug misuse; Hallucinogenic drugs; Hallucinogens; Novel psychoactive substances; Phenethylamines; Psychiatric disturbances; Synthetic cannabimimetics; Synthetic cathinones.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alkaloids / adverse effects
  • Cannabinoids / adverse effects
  • Fever / chemically induced*
  • Hallucinogens / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / chemically induced*
  • Mental Disorders / chemically induced*
  • Phenethylamines / adverse effects
  • Psychotropic Drugs / adverse effects*
  • Tachycardia / chemically induced*


  • Alkaloids
  • Cannabinoids
  • Hallucinogens
  • Phenethylamines
  • Psychotropic Drugs
  • cathinone