06.11.2015 change 06.11.2015

Study: NPS are the fourth most commonly used stimulant among young people

Photo: Fotolia Photo: Fotolia

NPS are the fourth most commonly used stimulant among young people in Europe. Most of the people taking new psychoactive substances do not know anything about their chemical composition or side effects. Meanwhile, about 1/4 users after taking them suffer from breathing problems and shortness of breath - according to a study by researchers from the University of Social Sciences and Humanities.

A survey conducted by the team of Prof. Piotr Sałustowicz - a sociologist from the University of Social Sciences and Humanities - shows that after alcohol, marijuana, ecstasy or amphetamine, so called NPS are the fourth stimulant most frequently indicated by respondents. They are more popular than LSD or hallucinogenic mushrooms.

"Almost half of the respondents could not identify the substances they took recently. In most cases they bought products sold under fancy trade names or as substances not intended for human consumption, such as +bath salts+, +incense+ or + collector goods+" - emphasized Prof. Piotr Sałustowicz.

According to the University of Social Sciences and Humanities release, almost all respondents had previous experience of using alcohol, tobacco and drugs. The average age of first contact with new substances is around 17 years. The respondents live in large cities, have low income, are dependent on their parents, learn, study, or are just starting their careers.

Analysis of Internet forums carried out by a team of scientists helped to identify six key user groups of legal highs. "Supermen" use them to increase their capabilities, for example of information processing, "scientists and experts" have professional, for example chemical knowledge on new psychoactive substances, and their goal is to increase knowledge on this issue. On the other hand, "experimenters" carry out experiments on themselves to boost the intensity of the experience and increase knowledge of their inner self; "kamikaze" are attracted to risk, their motivation is pushing their own limits, displays of bravado, probably accompanied by a strong need for stimulation. A separate group are the "party people" looking for the opportunities to establish relationships and share experiences in the peer group. The last group are "novices", who ask more experienced users questions and do not take direct part in the discussion - passive observers. They search for information on the substances, they are eager to read comments of "scientists and experts" or "experimenters".

Young people reach for the new substances mostly to create social relationships, socialize, as well as intoxicate themselves and relax. In the case of hallucinogens, a very important reason was the desire to change the perception of reality - the results of the online survey indicate. Almost all substances were used mainly in a group, most often at home, sometimes outside.

"NPS are a kind of answer to the contemporary reality. Using new psychoactive substances allows to work more efficiently for some time, take extramural studies after a long week of work without needing a rest, establish contacts easier, get rid of fear, rest faster. Of course, the consequence is the exhaustion of the body, sometimes psychosis and even death" - said Dr. Dorota Wiszejko-Wierzbicka.

According to the University of Social Sciences and Humanities, more than 90 percent users have never sought medical assistance because of discomfort after taking a new substance. Almost half of the respondents admitted to feeling the adverse effects. Most common effects included aggression and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath - noticed by approximately 1/4 of the respondents; muscle pain, spasms, lockjaw and overheating of the body - noticed by approximately 1/6 of the respondents.

"It\'s too early to talk about the widespread presence of highs, but there are legitimate concerns that their consumption will grow, if only because they are considered to be legal. In addition, their production is relatively simple. At the same time, the role of the Internet and online shops as providers of these substances increases. The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) draws attention to these dangers in their reports" - concluded Prof. Sałustowicz.

The study was carried out within the framework of the international project I-TREND (Internet tools for research in Europe on new drugs). 1,385 people were surveyed, 88 percent were young men and women under 25 years of age.

PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland

ekr/ agt/ zan/

tr. RL

Copyright © Foundation PAP 2019