Sales and Advertising Channels of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS): Internet, Social Networks, and Smartphone Apps

Cristina Miliano, Giulia Margiani, Liana Fattore, Maria Antonietta De Luca
Brain Sciences 2018 June 29, 8 (7)
In the last decade, the trend of drug consumption has completely changed, and several new psychoactive substances (NPS) have appeared on the drug market as legal alternatives to common drugs of abuse. Designed to reproduce the effects of illegal substances like cannabis, ecstasy, cocaine, or ketamine, NPS are only in part controlled by UN conventions and represent an emerging threat to global public health. The effects of NPS greatly differ from drug to drug and relatively scarce information is available at present about their pharmacology and potential toxic effects. Yet, compared to more traditional drugs, more dangerous short- and long-term effects have been associated with their use, and hospitalizations and fatal intoxications have also been reported after NPS use. In the era of cyberculture, the Internet acts as an ideal platform to promote and market these compounds, leading to a global phenomenon. Hidden by several aliases, these substances are sold across the web, and information about consumption is shared by online communities through drug fora, YouTube channels, social networks, and smartphone applications (apps). This review intends to provide an overview and analysis of social media that contribute to the popularity of NPS especially among young people. The possibility of using the same channels responsible for their growing diffusion to make users aware of the risks associated with NPS use is proposed.

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