Many new psychoactive substances (NPS) under different names throughout the world, Macedonia and Slovenia included, have emerged in the past few years. The most common names are: designer drugs, legal highs, herbal highs, research chemicals, bath salts, plant food etc. The substances are usually marked as not for human consumption. They are synthetic or plant based mostly sold on the internet or shops known as smart shops or head shops. These substances are not protected with the international legislation. Users’ experience can be tracked on social networks or forums. NPS’s users are also known as “psychonauts.”
According the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drugs Addiction (EMCDDA), a total of 164 new psychoactive substances were officially notified from 2005 to 2011 via the EU Early Warning System. In 2011, for the third time in a row, the largest number of new substances – 49 – was reported in Europe, which is more than the 41 in 2010 and the 24 substances in 2009. Around 2/3 of the newly notified substances in 2011 were synthetic cannabinoids or synthetic cathinones. In 2012, 73 new psychoactive substances were officially notified. The dominant substances in the last few years are mostly synthetic cannabinoid agonists (CRA), phenethylamine and cathinones, which imitate the effects of the most desired illicit drugs. In addition, the number of internet stores in EU that provide clients with psychoactive substances or products has also increased. In January 2012, 693 internet stores were discovered, which is more than the 314 in January and 170 in January 2011. Apart from the aforementioned sources, NPS can also be purchased with the mediation of street sellers.
The growing trend in new drugs can easily be tracked in the daily clinical practice of those working with people dependent on illicit drugs.