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Substance misuse

What are “New Psychoactive Substances”?

A group of young adults sit together on a bed in a cosy bedroom. One holds a glass in their hands. Overlaid is text that reads: "Drugs Awareness Poster Hub".

Substance misuse is an issue which cuts across our organisation and we have worked with frontline staff at Surrey Young People’s Substance Misuse to produce downloadable resources that anyone working with young people, or who would like to know more about emerging trends, can download, print off and share.

New psychoactive substances are compounds designed to mimic existing established recreational drugs. They can be grouped into four main categories: synthetic cannabinoids, depressants, stimulants and hallucinogens.

New psychoactive substances may commonly be called: ‘NPS’ or ‘legal highs’

  • Synethetic cannabinoids include a large number of drugs. The best known and most widely used are Spice and Black Mamba.
  • Depressants include drugs like GHB GBL (gamma butyrolactone) and ketamine, which has dissociative effects in addition to depressant effects.
  • Stimulants include drugs like MDMA (3,4-methylene-dioxymethamphetamine), better known as ecstasy, and ecstasy variants such as PMA and PMMA.
  • Hallucinogens include drugs such as LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) and assorted tryptamines and phenethylamines.

If you have used new psychoactive substances and you’re feeling unwell or notice someone else is unwell whilst using, after using or after stopping using new psychoactive substances, then seek medical attention urgently. Contact 111 for urgent medical advice or 999 in an emergency.