Legal Highs & Lows
As new psychoactive substances (NPS) flood the market and “designer drug” sales are on the rise, we are faced with significant – and growing – social and analytical challenges. Here, I offer an overview of a quietly unraveling crisis.
Amira Guirguis |
While serving as a hospital pharmacist, I frequently encountered patients with marijuana hidden in their belongings; often, they declared them as personal “herbal medicines”. At the same time, the use of “designer drugs” was increasing and it was not uncommon to encounter numerous admissions with unknown sources of toxicities. The lack of available clinical guidelines for treating designer drug-related toxicity made it challenging and led to the provision of supportive adjunct treatment as well as treating the symptoms themselves. Furthermore, symptom control was based on local formularies used by different hospitals rather than national guidelines (1). These challenges inspired me to undertake a PhD research project to study and investigate the new flood of “designer drugs”. This has led me into contributing to two EU-funded projects that focus on the problem of NPS: EU-MADNESS (www.eumadness.eu) and Enhancing Police Skills regarding NPS (www.npsproject.eu).
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