Improving the help and support provided to people who take new psychoactive substances ('legal highs')
Journal of public health
A B S T R AC T Background There are over 450 new psychoactive substances (NPS) circulating in Europe. In 2013, NPS were found to be a potential contributor to 60 drug deaths in Scotland. However, beyond these statistics, we know very little about the public health impact of NPS. Methods We used mixed methods to inform a needs assessment for Tayside: (i) routine data analysis, (ii) anonymous online survey and (iii) discussions with professionals and local community groups with either first-hand
... either first-hand experience of NPS or knowledge of others who had taken NPS. Results Routine data are limited. Six hundred and eighty-seven people responded to the survey, 401 with direct or indirect experience of NPS. NPS were most commonly obtained from shops (n ¼ 173) or friends (n ¼ 110). Respondents replied with 94 different names for NPS taken. One hundred and nine respondents reported instances where emergency medical help for NPS use had been required. Qualitative survey answers and discussions highlighted the adverse impact NPS can have on mental health and well-being in particular. Conclusions NPS are varied, easily accessible and can cause significant harm. We recommend that there should be improved data collection, raised awareness, restricted access, improved information sharing around NPS and the development, monitoring and evaluation of NPS-specific support delivered by services.