NEW PSYCHOACTIVE SUBSTANCES (NPS)
What are NPS?
NPL (also called designer drugs or research chemicals) is a term for a wide range of psychoactive substances that have not been sufficiently researched by now. They are defined as substances misused in a pure form or in the form of a preparation; they are not controlled under the 1961 United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs or the 1971 United Nations Convention on Narcotic Drugs; therefore they may pose a threat to public health. The term new may not only refer to a newly created substance (some NPS were first synthesized 40 years ago), but also to substances that appeared on the market just recently. These substances are formed by modifying the chemical structures of known substances such as MDMA, cocaine, LSD, or even anabolic steroids. The reason for the experimental modification of the chemical structures of known drugs is the possibility of temporary legal distribution in countries that have not yet managed to classify a particular substance among other illegal drugs. These substances are rapidly entering the market from laboratories, in some countries they have even been sold at petrol stations in the past. Legal protection was provided by the indication that the substance was not intended for human consumption, however, it could have been be purchased by anyone. NPS are sold in various forms, most often as powder / crystals, pills, liquids (mainly on papers). They are often packed in colorful packaging, which also states their composition, but do not ever trust it.
What are the effects of NPS?
The effects of NPS are diverse, some substances have a stimulating whereas others a sedative (calming) effect, some are more hallucinogenic, others cause feelings of happiness. Like “regular” drugs, NPSs are divided into stimulants (2-FA), synthetic cannabinoids (5F-PB-22), hallucinogens (2C-B), dissociatives (MXM), opioids (Desomorphine / Crocodile), sedatives and hypnotics (GHB), and a group with unknown effects. However, the use of NPSs is more dangerous compared to known drugs, which is due to the lack of knowledge about their effects, as they are “explored” only by the users themselves. The long-term effects of NPS use are explored even less.
What are the risks associated with their usage and how do I reduce them?
If you do not take NPS, you will avoid all risks. However, if you decide to use any of these drugs, try to find out as much information about it on the internet as possible. Many of the NPS are registered on wikipedia, psychonautwiki, erowid and similar sites. These sites mostly contain information based on the experience of users, but also research on more well-known drugs. The advantage of these sites over user forums is the fact that people who have more experience with these drugs and try to gather as much general facts about them as possible often add information. The website https://isomerdesign.com/PiHKAL/read.php also contains a huge amount of information about NPS, including dosage. NPS are used mainly orally (the least dangerous way), or via sniffing and smoking. These drugs are also used as “bombs”, i.e. wrapped in a cigarette paper and used orally. The drug thus suddenly begins to be metabolized in the stomach and its onset is stronger than normal oral use, but this method is more dangerous. Sudden and strong onset is often uNPSeasant. Injection is not recommended, mainly due to the high chance of vein damage and fatal overdose.
As for the use itself, take a small dose to examine the effects when you first use it. However, some NPS are extremely strong, which is why it is good to find at least approximate dosage values on the Internet (or from someone who has experience with this drug) and to be sure to take even less than the minimum dose, such as 0.5 milligrams, and wait a few hours. This will at least roughly tell you more about the effects of your drug. NPS can be difficult to dose, so it is recommended to use volumetric dosing if you do not have the exact weight.
- Take the NPS on a kitchen scale to see if you happen to have twice as much drug in the bag as you think. Unfortunately, you need a kitchen scale with an accuracy of at least 1 gram. If you have trust in the information about the weight of the drug you have, go ahead with that information.
- Dissolve the NPS in water (or if the drug is not water soluble such as benzodiazepines, dissolve it in alcohol, ideally in vodka, but higher doses of alcohol are dangerous for many drugs, so use as little alcohol as possible).
- Mix the solution well, take it into a syringe and then dispense the required volume of liquid, e.g. on a spoon.
– This way you can dose the drug according to the volume of the fluid (because you know the approximate ratio of the drug in the fluid) and this method is accurate to a few milligrams.
– Example: if you dissolve 40 mg of a drug in 10 ml of liquid, 1 ml will contain about 4 mg of drug.
Try to take these drugs in a safe and familiar environment, ideally with a sober friend. Since the effects of frequent use and the exact toxicity of most NPS have not been studied, it is ideal to take 2-3 month interval between uses. With NPS, it is always a good idea to read about a known drug with similar effects (such as MDMA or cocaine) and follow the recommendations (such as a drinking regimen) for similar drugs. Keep in mind, however, that NPSs are not identical to the original drugs, a great example being synthetic cannabinoids, which, unlike marijuana, can cause death at high doses. If you or someone in your family suffers from mental or heart problems, you should definitely avoid using NPS. Never take NPS during pregnancy.
What to do if someone uses too much NPS?
In the case of bad trips, overdose or other side effects, you can follow the instructions for more well-known drugs, but keep in mind that NPS do not have the same effects and their mechanisms in the body are somewhat different. However, if you feel dizzy, have an irregular heartbeat, excessive fever, feelings of confusion, or even start vomiting or lose consciousness, do not be afraid to call for medical help and tell them exactly what you have taken. It is for such situations that it is good to have a sober friend with you. The use of the drug itself is not a criminal offense and specific information on the type of drug is important for providing first aid.
Combination of NPS and other psychoactive substances – what to avoid?
In principle, it is best not to combine NPS with any other drugs, including alcohol. For example, the combination of MDMA and LSD is not life-threatening, but the combination of MDMA and 2C-T-7 is already, while 2C-T-7 is also “only” a psychedelic, but its chemical properties are radically different from LSD. Therefore, do not rely on the low risk of some known drug combinations if you plan to replace one of them with NPS with similar effects. Under no circumstances should you take NPS if you are taking antidepressants or other psychoactive medicines.
Here you will find basic information about some of the more well-known NPS, especially those that have occurred or are likely to occur in Slovakia. The letter X indicates the part of the drug name that changes (e.g. 2C-X = 2C-B, 2C-C, 2C-E…)
2C-X (captured in Slovakia in the first half of 2019)
The best known NPS in this series is 2C-B, the dosage of which is between 12-24 mg and the duration of effects is 4-8 hours. The duration of the onset of effects is 45-75 minutes. It is taken orally. Every 2 mg significantly increases the intensity of the effects, so it is good to take 12 or 10 mg for the first time. It has psychedelic effects associated with euphoria. It acts as an aphrodisiac, so it is good to have condoms with you. As with other psychedelics, the risk of a bad trip is exacerbated by an unfamiliar environment or by unknown people near you. Despite the recommendations, this drug is usually combined with MDMA – if you plan to do so, use 2C-B only after the effects of MDMA have completely disappeared.
The most well-known drug in this series is 2C-T-7, its dosage is between 10-30 mg and its effects last for 8-15 hours. The effects are similar to LSD and MDMA and last for 1-2 hours. It is taken orally and any other use can cause many side effects as well as death. This drug is extremely dangerous in a combination with drugs that act on serotonin or dopamine, for example: MDMA, stimulants such as cocaine, amphetamines and MAOI antidepressants. It is produced by a modification of mescaline molecules.
DMT (captured in Slovakia in the first half of 2019)
A psychedelic substance that occurs freely in nature can have some of the strongest psychedelic effects ever. It is used mainly via smoking or oral use. In combination with MAOI / RIMA agents, Ayahuasca is prepared from DMT, which is taken orally, has a several-hour effect that does not reach the strength of smoked DMT, but is still strong.
When smoking, the dose is usually between 20-40 mg. The effects start within 40 seconds and last for 5 to 20 minutes. Most users cannot stay on their feet or have their eyes open, so a safe environment is recommended where users can sit / lie down and their tripsitter will be careful (it is important to remove the pipe from the user’s hand as it is likely that the user will not manage to put it away and it can cause burns or fire). Hallucinations include travelling through dimensions, complicated geometric shapes, or conversations with a large number of extraterrestrial entities. Geometric hallucinations are described in more detail and illustrated here: https://psychonautwiki.org/wiki/Geometry. Negative effects include feelings of anxiety, delusions or psychosis. Psychoses can last long after the effects in the form of toxic / latent psychoses have subsided, with the most vulnerable group being users with or with predisposition to mental disorders (disorders occurring in the family). Before use, it is important to become familiar with the practices of harm reduction and tripsitting precisely because of the possibility of a bad trip. It is also recommended to take lower doses during the first use. So far, there are no data on physical or mental dependence or lethal dose.
Stimulant also called Rave, Nrg1 or Energy1 with cocaine-like effects. It is usually snorted, but is also taken orally. However, most samples sold under this name do not contain the substance at all. Oral dosage is between 20-35 mg. The effects last 6-12 hours and start within a few minutes.
Substituted cathinones (captured in Slovakia in the first half of 2019)
This range of drugs is one of the stimulants similar to amphetamines or MDMA (PCA), but they are often much more neurotoxic than the original substances. Some drugs in this line have antidepressant rather than stimulant effects (4-BMC). Substituted cathinones can generally be identified by the name X-Xmethcathinone (e.g., 4-Bromomethcathinome). Known cathinones include Mephedrone (4-MMC), also known as “bath salts”. It can be used in all ways except smoking and causes conditions similar to MDMA, amphetamines and cocaine. The safest method of use is to dissolve it in pure water and then take it orally. The dosage is between 100-250 mg. Cocaine-like effects last only a short time, forcing a person to take more doses in a row, but such “rides” and combinations with other drugs have caused deaths of several people.
Synthetic cannabinoids (captured in Slovakia in the first half of 2019)
They are mostly chemically similar to THC structures; CBD and other non-hallucinogenic substances found in marijuana are produced less, and are also less explored. In Slovakia, mainly synthetic cannabinoids of the XF-MDMB-X series were captured. The dosage varies, but is usually in the range of 1-5 mg (more detailed information on the dosage of a particular drug can be found at https://psychonautwiki.org, or elsewhere). Synthetic cannabinoids are used for smoking for a shorter and more intense experience, but they can also be taken orally, after dissolving in alcohol or fats (they are not soluble in water). The effects usually start after 1-20 minutes and last for about 30-90 minutes. The effects are similar to marijuana, they include motor impairment, improved appetite, pain relief, dehydration, and spontaneous physical sensations of “high”. NEVER combine synthetic cannabinoids with alcohol or other drugs, you risk paranoia, anxiety or even psychosis. This danger is higher than with marijuana.
Reneman, L. (2003). Designer drugs: how dangerous are they?. In: Fleischhacker, W. W., Brooks D. J.. Addiction Mechanisms, Phenomenology and Treatment. Springer, Vienna.
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