Novel psychoactive substances: Synthetic cathinones and cannabinoid receptor agonists

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The synthesis of “designer drugs” intended to mimic the effects of chemically similar controlled substances while circumventing existing drug laws has grown exponentially since the turn of the century. These novel psychoactive substances (NPSs) have been introduced into the market with some regularity over the previous century in response to regulations which outlaw the use of existing agents, but more recently the Internet has allowed for worldwide distribution and encouraged NPS production on a global scale. These synthetic compounds contain modified molecular structures similar enough to controlled or illegal substances so as to produce a similar effect in the user but different enough so as to not fall under the same restrictions placed on the production, distribution, possession, and use of the parent compound. These drugs are often produced clandestinely with little or no quality control processes, and there is a wide variation in chemical content among commercial preparations purported to be the same product. Typically, the existence of a new NPS comes to the attention of law enforcement or the medical community only after users begin to die in large numbers or present to hospitals for treatment with heretofore unseen symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEssentials of Pharmacology for Anesthesia, Pain Medicine, and Critical Care
PublisherSpringer New York
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781461489481
ISBN (Print)9781461489474
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015


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