From concept(ion) to life after death/the grave: the ‘natural’ history and life-cycle(s) of Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS)
A range of information needs should be met in order to better understand and predict the longevity/existence of Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS). This conceptual paper argues that one way of assessing how long a molecule may be around is to document how the lifecycles or natural histories of ‘traditional’ drugs and NPS evolve. The earliest indication of the possible appearance of a new substance might be evidenced on the DeepWeb. However, this means they are less visible, in line with the clandestine nature of drug use and supply. Therefore, monitoring discussion groups/fora needs the development of new methods compared to those used in the Surface Net. Issues needing consideration in establishing NPS life-cycles are outlined here, together with the probable outcomes that could result. The approach advocated means that it should be easier to identify which NPS are likely to come up or are emerging in real time, and, therefore, pre-empt/prevent their supply.