New psychoactive substances (NPS) have become a global phenomenon, with over 134 countries and territories from all world regions reporting them. Since December 2021, governments, laboratories, and partner agencies have confirmed to the UNODC Early Warning Advisory (EWA) on NPS over 1124 substances. Read more
One of the factors that increase the effectiveness of the pharmacotherapy used in patients abusing various types of new psychoactive substances (NPSs) is the proper functioning of the liver. However, the articles published to date on NPS hepatotoxicity only address non-specific hepatic parameters. Read more
New psychoactive substances continue to appear on the drug market, and alpha-pyrrolidinoisohexanophenone (α-PiHP) is one of the most popular cathinone derivatives. In this article, a case of death caused by α-PiHP is reported. Read more
The proliferation of Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS) presents a challenge for global drug policy. The ease of online drug purchase and the emergence of the dark web have created new avenues for the growth of NPS. Despite the global nature of this issue, limited research has examined motivations of use. These include perceived safety or convenience, an interest in novel pharmacology and self-exploration. Recent evidence has suggested individuals may be self-medicating with NPS, however this phenomenon has yet to be thoroughly explored. This study aims to investigate the occurrence of NPS self-medication, identify the specific NPS involved, and understand the motivations behind their use.
According to the EU Early Warning System (EWS), synthetic cathinones (SCs) are the second largest new psychoactive substances (NPS) class, with 162 synthetic cathinones monitored by the EU EWS. They have a similar structure to cathinone, principally found in Catha Edulis; they have a phenethylamine related structure but also exhibit amphetamine-like stimulant effects. Illegal laboratories regularly develop new substances and place them on the market. For this reason, during the last decade this class of substances has presented a great challenge for public health and forensic toxicologists.
Acting on different systems and with various mechanisms of action, the spectrum of side effects caused by the intake of these drugs of abuse is very broad. To date, most studies have focused on the substances’ cardiac effects, and very few on their associated neurotoxicity.
Specifically, synthetic cathinones appear to be involved in different neurological events, including increased alertness, mild agitation, severe psychosis, hyperthermia and death. A systematic literature search in PubMed and Scopus databases according to PRISMA guidelines was performed. A total of 515 studies published from 2005 to 2022 (350 articles from PubMed and 165 from Scopus) were initially screened for eligibility. The papers excluded, according to the criteria described in the Method Section (n = 401) and after full text analyses (n = 82), were 483 in total. The remaining 76 were included in the present review, as they met fully the inclusion criteria.
The present work provides a comprehensive review on neurotoxic mechanisms of synthetic cathinones highlighting intoxication cases and fatalities in humans, as well as the toxic effects on animals (in particular rats, mice and zebrafish larvae). The reviewed studies showed brain-related adverse effects, including encephalopathy, coma and convulsions, and sympathomimetic and hallucinogenic toxidromes, together with the risk of developing excited/agitated delirium syndrome and serotonin syndrome.
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Recreational and sexual drug use among men who have sex with men may result in increased risk of poor health. The aim of this study was to better understand drug use and harm reduction techniques among Swedish men who have sex with men traveling to Berlin in order to improve the health of this population and inform public health strategies. Read more
Despite recent rises in fatal overdoses involving multiple substances, there is a paucity of knowledge about stimulant co-use patterns among people who use opioids (PWUO) or people being treated with medications for opioid use disorder (PTMOUD). A better understanding of the timing and patterns in stimulant co-use among PWUO based on mentions of these substances on social media can help inform prevention programs, policy, and future research directions. This study examines stimulant co-mention trends among PWUO/PTMOUD on social media over multiple years. Read more
Synthetic cathinones are a heterogenous group of new psychoactive substances (NPS) with a surging prevalence of use. They are sold under the name of “Bath Salts,” “Legal Highs” or “Research Chemical.” It is a heterogeneous group of substances that have a varying binding selectivity and affinity. Due to limited availability of NPS screening tests, inadequate legislation, the exponential increases in availability of new NPS and the comorbid use of other illicit substances, scientific research remains scarce. As a result, insight in their mental and psychomotor effects is limited. Read more
The utility of classical drugs used to treat psychiatric disorders (e.g., antidepressants, anxiolytics) is often limited by issues of lack of efficacy, delayed onset of action or side effects. Psychoactive substances have a long history of being used as tools to alter consciousness and as a gateway to approach the unknown and the divinities. These substances were initially obtained from plants and animals and more recently by chemical synthesis, and its consumption evolved toward a more recreational use, leading to drug abuse-related disorders, trafficking, and subsequent banning by the authorities. Read more
The emergence of novel psychoactive substances (NPS) has been being a continuous and evolving problem for more than a decade. Every year, dozens of new, previously unknown drugs appear on the illegal market, posing a significant threat to the health and lives of their users. Synthetic cathinones are one of the most numerous and widespread groups among NPS. The purpose of this work was to identify and summarize available data on newly emerging cathinones in very recent years. Read more