An international survey on the awareness, use, preference and health perception of Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS)
ObjectiveThis survey investigated the level of public awareness, preference and motivation of NPS use as well as knowledge of potential associated health risks.Methods A Bristol Online Survey was advertised through social media and a drug forum ‘’Bluelight’’ between 7 January and 7 February 2015. ResultsResponses were received from 17 countries, mainly from Europe. Most responses (83%) came from University educated students. Two-thirds (65%) of the 168 respondents were aware of NPS. Awareness was significantly increased in those with bisexual/homosexual orientation (p<0.05) and those in employment (p<0.05). Fourteen percent of the 168 respondents were users of NPS and use was significantly affected by age and those in employment (p<0.01), but unaffected by their level of education (p>0.05). Nearly half of the NPS users perceived NPS to carry either a low risk to health (20%) or did not know whether or not they posed a health risk (29%).ConclusionsThese survey data indicate that awareness of NPS and, importantly, perception of the potential health risks associated with NPS use is lacking. NPS awareness and use is higher in those in employment but is unaffected by the level of education. This highlights the need for targeted drugs education intervention by policy-makers in schools and universities.