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Epidemiology of Use of Novel Psychoactive Substances

Part of the Springer Reference Psychologie book series (SRP)

Abstract

This chapter aims to provide a brief review of current understanding of Novel Psychoactive Substance (NPS) prevalence estimates. It reports findings of major surveys from the previous 2 years (2013–2015) and describes the ways in which different general population surveys have attempted to estimate use. The review includes both, large probabilistic household surveys (including secondary analysis) as well as notable research based on large convenience samples. Brief reference is also made to new techniques and health monitoring data sources which may improve understanding of these compounds. Overall, it is clear that despite increasing public and political attention, NPS prevalence rates remain low, and use of some prominent compounds is even falling. However, the area remains methodologically weak and whilst estimates derived from general population surveys are likely to be underestimate of use, findings from surveys undertaken in ‘high risk’ populations (with respect to likelihood of use) suffer from a number of biases. There is also a lack of data available on NPS use and associated behaviours in population groups that may be more likely to require intervention and treatment such as those with multiple needs, including problematic drug use behaviours, mental ill health, homelessness, and those in contact with criminal justice services.

Keywords

  • Novel psychoactive substances
  • Research chemicals
  • Epidemiology
  • Prevalence estimates
  • Methodology

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Notes

  1. 1.

    See http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/flash_arch_en.htm (last accessed 29/7/15).

  2. 2.

    Information from http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/topics/pods/controlling-new-psychoactive-substances.

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Sumnall, H.R. (2016). Epidemiology of Use of Novel Psychoactive Substances. In: von Heyden, M., Jungaberle, H., Majić, T. (eds) Handbuch Psychoaktive Substanzen. Springer Reference Psychologie . Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-55214-4_11-1

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