Responding to New Psychoactive Substances in the European Union: Early Warning, Risk Assessment and Control Measures
New psychoactive substances are drugs that are not controlled by the United Nations drug control conventions but that may pose similar threats to public health. Many of them are traded as ‘legal’ replacements for controlled drugs such as cannabis, heroin, cocaine, amphetamine and MDMA. Driven by globalisation, there has been a large increase in the availability of and, subsequently, harms caused by these substances in Europe in recent years. This chapter briefly traces the origins of new psychoactive substances, provides an overview of the situation in Europe and discusses the work of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction as part of a legal framework of early warning, risk assessment and control measures that allows the European Union to rapidly detect, assess and respond to public health and social threats caused by these substances.