Not Particularly Special:critiquing ‘NPS’ as a category of drugs

Potter, Gary Richard and Chatwin, Caroline (2018) Not Particularly Special:critiquing ‘NPS’ as a category of drugs. Drugs: Education, Prevention, and Policy, 25 (4). pp. 329-336. ISSN 0968-7637

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Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS) have been a dominant feature of drug discourse for many years now and, in academic, policy and public discourse, have become established as a new – and by implication, distinct – category of drugs. We argue that this understanding of NPS is fundamentally problematic. Differences within the category are obscured, as are similarities between NPS and more established categories of drugs. Focusing on NPS as something new, different or particularly special is misleading and counterproductive and can have serious consequences in terms of understanding the bigger picture in relation to illegal drugs more generally. This has led to overestimations of the size of the NPS problem, obfuscation of the common underlying causes of dependent drug use, and the implementation of significant and problematic policy changes. Further, a failure to see the rise in NPS as just one of a number of emerging trends in contemporary drug scenes, alongside the development of online markets or the rise in domestic drug production operations, for example, impairs our ability to understand the wider societal, cultural and theoretical underpinnings of drug use. NPS are not particularly special: treating them as such can have dangerous and far-reaching consequences.

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Journal Article
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Drugs: Education, Prevention, and Policy
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Deposited On:
29 Nov 2017 14:00
Last Modified:
22 Sep 2023 00:33