An overview of recent developments in the analytical detection of new psychoactive substances (NPSs)
New psychoactive substances (NPSs), sometimes referred to as “legal highs” in more colloquial environments/the media, are a class of compounds that have been recently made available for abuse (not necessarily recently discovered) which provide similar effects to the traditional well studied illegal drugs but are not always controlled under existing local, regional or international drug legislation. Following an unprecedented increase in the number of NPSs in the last 5 years (with 101 substances discovered for the first time in 2014 alone) its, occasionally fatal, consequences have been extensively reported in the media. Such NPSs are typically marketed as ‘not for human consumption’ and are instead labelled and sold as plant food, bath salts as well as a whole host of other equally nondescript aliases in order to bypass legislative controls. NPSs are a new multi-disciplinary research field with the main emphasis in terms of forensic identification due to their adverse health effects, which can range from minimal to life threatening and even fatalities. In this mini-review we overview this recent emerging research area of NPSs and the analytical approaches reported to provide detection strategies as well as detailing recent reports towards providing point-of-care/in-the-field NPS (“legal high”) sensors.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Analytical Sciences in the UK