Principal Lecturer in Mental Health, Academic Research Lead, Postgraduate Medicine, School of Life and Medical Sciences, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, UK; King’s College, Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK
Background: The recent emergence of new psychoactive substances (NPS) combined with the ability of the Internet to disseminate information quickly and act as an online marketplace, has raised a number of concerns in the field of drug prevention.
Methods: Multilingual qualitative assessments of a range of websites, drug fora and other online resources was carried out using the Google search engine in 9 languages from a number of collaborating countries (the UK, Norway, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Italy and Spain) and innovative prevention messages were developed using a variety of technological tools.
Results: more than 650 novel psychoactive substances were identified in the past 7 years of activities and the first prevention programme focused on NPS targeted at both young people and health professionals was designed and successfully piloted across the EU.
Conclusions: 1. Web monitoring activities with respect to drug-related issues is a necessary step to better tackle the diffusion of NPS. 2. The use of technological tools could be successfully incorporated in specific prevention programmes on NPS; 3. Multi-cultural and multi-disciplinary partnerships are the key to anticipating the future and adapting to the change brought by the emergence of NPS.