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20 April 2016 - In 2012, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs expressed for the first time, its concern over the rapid emergence of new psychoactive substances (a.k.a. NPS). Four years on, more than 640 individual substances have been reported to the UNODC Early Warning Advisory, and over 100 countries and territories from all regions of the world have reported one or more NPS. On average, one of these substances enters the market every week.

During the ​UN General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS) in April 2016 it was highlighted how NPS mimic the effects of common controlled substances such as methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, LSD, and others"NPS are not controlled under the international drug conventions and with this they carry an aura of legality. Some users subsequently perceive them as safe."

Yet while NPS are meant to mimic illicit substances, they also bear numerous undesired effects. Their use has ultimately led to increased abuse, dependence, hospitalization, and sometimes fatalities. Of great concern is that users often do not know what they are taking, or how much of a substance they are being exposed to.

The dynamic nature of the problem has also meant that research and monitoring activities are critical in improving understanding of the phenomenon.

More information on this particular topic can be found on the UNODC website. Information regarding the monitoring of this phenomenon is available on the United Nations EWS page.