The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) unveiled today its latest drug report which indicates the overwhelming proliferation of new psychoactive substances (NPS).
NPS are often marketed as “legal highs” and “designer drugs.” They are sold via the Internet, smokeshop, and convenience stores under the names spice, meow-meow, and bath salts.
Member States reported that the number of NPS have increased from 166 at the end of 2009 to 251 by mid-2012. To make matters worse, the drugs can be obtained without running into legal trouble, the 2013 World Drug Report noted.
The usual target of NPS are teenagers who are easily misled into thinking that the substances are safe. However, the lack of clinical trials on NPS make public health experts agree that the drugs can be far more dangerous than traditional drugs.
“Given the almost infinite scope to alter the chemical structure of NPS, new formulations are outpacing efforts to impose international control,” the UNODC said. “While law enforcement lags behind, criminals have been quick to tap into this lucrative market. The adverse effects and addictive potential of most of these uncontrolled substances are at best poorly understood.”
In response to growing emergence of NPS, UNODC has launched an early warning system that will allow the global community to monitor the proliferation and take appropriate actions.