By Christophe Soussan and Anette Kjellgren – The International Journal for Drug Policy.
The increasing number of Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS) constitutes a challenge for public health agencies and researchers worldwide. Scientific studies about NPS and their users are limited and there is a need to explore the general motivations for NPS use but also to examine if and how the motivations differ between substances from separate effect classes. The aim of the present study was to investigate the characteristics, including attitudes and motivations, of a self-selected sample of international NPS users.
An online survey containing questions about drug use history, attitudes, motivations for use, and WHO-5 Wellbeing Index was promoted at the drug discussion forum bluelight.org. The data was analysed using SPSS.
The sample consisted of 619 international NPS users with overall good emotional well-being despite extensive experience of both traditional and novel drugs. The main incentive for use of NPS in general was pleasure and enjoyment. However, going beyond the general approach to NPS revealed significant variations between drug groups. For example, the use of hallucinogens was substantially motivated by self-exploration and spiritual attainment and showed very low levels of addiction potential while the use of opioids and especially GABA activating substances was mainly motivated by coping and showed much higher levels of addiction potential. Synthetic cannabinoids were the least appreciated and least likely to be used again, and were mainly motivated by circumstances such as availability and legality.
Understanding the different motivations for NPS use in terms of drug groups could enable more effective prevention and consequently a reduction in harm.