USE OF NOVEL PSYCHOACTIVE SUBSTANCES (NPS) OF NATURAL ORIGIN: AN INTERNATIONAL SURVEY
Aim NPS recreational use are mostly derived and modified from constituents of natural origin. Here we investigated the motivation of natural NPS use, perception of potential associated health risks and demographic factors associated with natural NPS use. Methodology The Bristol Online Survey was in English and advertised on the drug forum Bluelight and social media Facebook pages and via University email between 1 July and 17 November 2018 (812 responses; 458 NPS users). This pharmacoepidemiologic study was evaluated using SPSS software (IBM SPSS Statistics version 24;MacOS Sierra 10.12.3). Results The main motivation (67%) for natural NPS use was curiosity to ‘’experience something new and different’’ with a low perception of health risk (85%). The preferred natural NPS was magic mushrooms (psilocybin, 95%) often in combination with cannabis (63%). Gender, living area, educational background, smoking frequency and employment significantly affected (P<0.001) natural NPS use. Male respondents, residents of suburban and rural areas, smokers and respondents with low educational level represented the majority of natural NPS users as well as the employed, the unable to work and retired groups. Similarly, sexual orientation significantly affected (p<0.05) natural NPS use. Conclusion Users’ low perception of natural NPS safety profile and the fact that natural NPS use correlates with a lower level of education, indicates a need for enhanced statutory targeted prevention interventions in schools. Many users (67%) reported natural NPS make them happier and more optimistic about life emphasizing the need to study the potential application of these substances in appropriate clinical settings for therapeutic purposes in mental health.