Understanding Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS) and Emerging Drug Trend

Develop your Professional Skill Set

Course Overview

This comprehensive online course delves into the complex world of Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS) and emerging substances, exploring them from various perspectives, such as health, society, and the individual user. Through a blend of live and pre-recorded sessions, students will gain a robust understanding of the risks, prevalence, acute effects, induced psychopathology, and clinical management of NPS.

The course endeavors to offer an in-depth and well-rounded exploration of NPS and performance and enhancement drugs. By drawing from a variety of expert perspectives, we seek to not only define and characterize these substances but also understand their impact on health, society, and policy. Through a multi-faceted approach, participants will be exposed to the historical context, pharmacological properties, societal implications, and the global trends associated with NPS. This comprehensive immersion is designed to equip attendees with a holistic grasp of the subject, empowering them to make informed decisions and contributions in their respective fields related to NPS.

The course starts with a live introduction to NPS, setting the stage for the deeper explorations in the pre-recorded sessions. The pre-recorded presentations offer flexibility for students to learn at their own pace, while also ensuring a consistent learning experience. The course concludes with a live online workshop that serves as a platform for discussion, reflection, and hands-on application of the knowledge gained during the course.

Course Aims:

The course aims to provide comprehensive knowledge and understanding of Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS) and emerging substances from multiple perspectives.

The course will:

  1. Provide an understanding of the nature, characteristics, and prevalence of NPS.
  2. Investigate the potential risks, harms, and benefits associated with NPS use.
  3. Offer a comparative analysis of various substances, including recreational stimulants, cannabis, and synthetic cannabinoids.
  4. Delve into the psychopathological effects of NPS, including the potential for psychosis and other mental health disorders.
  5. Explore the societal and health impacts of NPS, with a focus on the rise of use following COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.
  6. Present an overview of the clinical management of NPS in various settings, using real-world case studies.

Course structure

1: Understanding Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS)

Live Webinar

The course begins with a dynamic live introduction session, designed to set the tone and foundation for the subsequent modules. In this session, participants will be taken through a meticulously crafted outline detailing the course’s trajectory, ensuring clarity on the learning journey ahead. Beyond the structure, this introductory segment delves into a concise overview of Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS). Attendees will be provided with insights into the historical evolution of NPS, understanding how these substances emerged and the factors that influenced their rise. Furthermore, the session will shed light on the distinct characteristics that define NPS, distinguishing them from other substances. To give a global perspective, the introduction will also touch upon the prevalence and distribution of NPS in various regions, offering a panoramic view of their impact worldwide.

2: Change to

Pre-recorded Presentation

In this illuminating session, participants will embark on a comprehensive exploration of the potential risks and adverse effects associated with Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS), especially through the lens of the end user. Delving deep into personal accounts and documented experiences, the discussion will shed light on the multifaceted challenges and dangers that users often encounter. This exploration provides a human-centric view of the issue, emphasizing real-world implications over theoretical conjectures.

In addition to the user-centric analysis, the session will pivot to a geographical assessment, highlighting the variances in NPS usage across different regions. A spotlight will be cast on Germany, where recent social research has unveiled intriguing patterns and statistics regarding NPS prevalence. By examining these findings, attendees will gain a nuanced understanding of the regional factors and socio-cultural dynamics that influence the consumption and impact of NPS in Germany, potentially serving as a microcosm for broader global trends.

3: Recreational Stimulants Compared to Cannabis: A Psychobiological Overview
Andrew C Parrott

Pre-recorded Presentation

Delve into the rich tapestry of recreational stimulants and cannabis through a psychobiological lens. This presentation offers a thorough exploration of their molecular intricacies and the profound ways they resonate with the human system. By analyzing their mechanisms of action, we shine a light on the physiological and psychological terrains they navigate.

Stimulants and cannabis, when juxtaposed, reveal captivating contrasts. Beyond shared effects, they manifest unique influences on cognition, emotion, and behavior. For instance, while stimulants often elevate alertness and vigor, cannabis has the potential to subtly shape mood and perception.

Drawing upon cutting-edge research and enlightening case studies, this session promises a holistic view. It crafts a compelling narrative for attendees, enabling them to fathom the nuanced interplay of these substances with human physiology and psyche. Ultimately, it seeks to highlight their significant and sometimes understated roles in shaping our experiences and well-being.

4: Delete

Pre-recorded Presentation

In the rapidly evolving landscape of drug consumption, New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) have emerged as a significant and potentially daunting concern. This presentation dives deep into the broader implications of NPS on the sanctity of global health security.

Beginning with a foundational understanding of what constitutes NPS, we will then shift focus to their increasing prevalence and the associated hazards they introduce. The proliferation of these substances poses not only direct health risks to users but also challenges the very fabric of public health infrastructures, due to their unpredictable effects and the constant evolution of new variants.

We will dissect the multi-faceted threats NPS present, ranging from acute medical emergencies stemming from overdose to the long-term health complications and potential for dependency. Furthermore, the session will discuss the strain on health resources, as health professionals grapple with limited knowledge and tools to diagnose, treat, and rehabilitate affected individuals.

5: Club drugs and induced psychopathology
Giovanni Martinotti

Pre-recorded Presentation

Club drugs, often synonymous with night-life and rave cultures, have more profound implications than just fleeting highs. This session takes an in-depth look at the psychopathological ramifications of such substances. Not only are these drugs potent in altering immediate perception and mood, but they also possess the potential to trigger long-term mental health disturbances.

Drawing on the latest research, we’ll unpack the psychological aftermath of regular and acute club drug consumption. From transient episodes of paranoia or hallucinations to more persistent issues like depression, anxiety, or cognitive impairment, the spectrum of induced psychopathology is broad and concerning. Beyond the direct effects on the individual, we’ll touch on the broader societal implications, including the strain on health care systems and familial relationships. With a goal to foster awareness and preventative strategies, this session offers a holistic understanding of club drugs’ intricate relationship with mental health.

6: Delete

Pre-recorded Presentation

Synthetic cannabinoids, particularly JWC-018, have gained attention not just for their mimicry of natural cannabis effects but also for their potential heightened risks. This session delves deeply into the acute ramifications of a moderate dosage of JWC-018. While natural cannabis and its effects are widely studied, synthetic variants like JWC-018 introduce a different spectrum of physiological and psychological outcomes.

Drawing from contemporary research and clinical findings, we will elucidate the immediate impacts of this synthetic compound on the brain and cognition. A central focus will be its potential to induce psychotic symptoms. These may range from transient auditory and visual hallucinations to more sustained altered states of reality perception, which can be particularly distressing for users.

7: Performance and Imaging Enhancing Drugs and related psychopathology: clinical issues
Pierluigi Simonato

Pre-recorded Presentation

The surge in the use of performance and imaging enhancing drugs has raised vital clinical concerns. This session delves into the multifaceted world of these substances, which, while designed to augment physical and cognitive capacities, may harbor unforeseen psychological repercussions. As we navigate this terrain, we’ll illuminate the fine line between enhancement and detriment. Key attention will be given to associated psychopathologies, which might manifest as mood disorders, cognitive dysfunctions, or altered perceptions. Drawing from contemporary clinical observations and research, our exploration will offer a comprehensive view, aiming to equip attendees with a nuanced understanding of the benefits, risks, and complexities tied to these drugs.

8: Delete

Pre-recorded Presentation

The arena of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) is vast and evolving, with implications reaching beyond mere physiological responses. This session embarks on a thorough exploration of how NPS interacts with human behavior and cognition. By juxtaposing findings from controlled environments, where variables are meticulously managed, with observations from naturalistic settings, where NPS use unfolds in real-world scenarios, we aim to paint a comprehensive picture of their effects. This dual-perspective approach offers a unique lens, allowing attendees to discern the stark contrasts and surprising commonalities in outcomes. Through this deep dive, we strive to equip participants with a holistic understanding of the multifaceted interplay between NPS, individual behavior, and cognitive processes.

9: Delete

Pre-recorded Presentation

The global pandemic, while primarily a health crisis, has cascading effects on various aspects of society, including substance use patterns. This session embarks on a meticulous, evidence-based exploration of a pressing question: Did the easing of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions inadvertently catalyze an uptick in crystal meth consumption and, consequently, surge in hospital admissions?

Drawing from a rich tapestry of epidemiological data, hospital records, and firsthand testimonials, we aim to piece together a comprehensive narrative. We’ll scrutinize potential correlations between lockdown timelines, availability and consumption of crystal meth, and the frequency of related medical emergencies. Beyond just the numbers, the discussion will venture into the socio-psychological dimensions, seeking to understand the underlying factors driving such trends, if they exist.

In encapsulating this multi-faceted issue, attendees will be equipped with a deeper insight into the unforeseen repercussions of global crises on substance use patterns and public health.

10: Clinical management of NPS in different settings (clinical cases)
Antonio Metastasio


Pre-recorded Presentation

The challenges of managing New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) span across varied clinical settings, each presenting unique intricacies. This session is dedicated to a meticulous exploration of the hands-on strategies adopted by clinicians in these diverse environments. Drawing from a rich repository of clinical case studies, we illuminate the spectrum of challenges and solutions in real-world scenarios. From emergency rooms grappling with acute NPS intoxications to rehabilitation centers facilitating long-term recovery, the presentation covers the gamut of clinical encounters. By juxtaposing theory with tangible cases, we aim to provide attendees with a multifaceted understanding of the complexities inherent in managing NPS, showcasing the adaptability and resilience required in different care settings.

11: Bridging Theory and Practical Application

Live Online Workshop

As the course reaches its culmination, participants are invited to partake in an interactive live workshop designed to seamlessly bridge the gap between theoretical learning and real-world application. This session serves as an enriching platform where attendees can actively engage in discussions about the course’s content, voicing their queries, sharing personal insights, and reflecting upon their experiences. The workshop’s interactive nature ensures a collaborative learning environment, fostering a deeper comprehension through the collective wisdom of peers. Moreover, with a focus on hands-on learning, participants will be encouraged to apply their acquired knowledge to thought-provoking hypothetical scenarios and real-world case studies. The goal is to ensure that every attendee departs with a solid grasp of the subject matter and the confidence to practically implement their learnings in relevant contexts.

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Describe the characteristics and prevalence of NPS, and understand their place within the broader category of psychoactive substances.
  2. Evaluate the potential risks and harms of NPS from the user’s perspective, with an appreciation of regional and cultural variations in use and impact.
  3. Compare and contrast the psychobiological effects of recreational stimulants and cannabis.
  4. Understand the implications of NPS on global health security and recognize the potential threats and challenges these substances pose to public health systems.
  5. Identify the acute effects of specific substances such as synthetic cannabinoids and the induced psychopathology from club drugs.
  6. Analyze the relationship between NPS use and behaviour, drawing on insights from controlled and naturalistic studies.
  7. Assess the correlation between eased COVID-19 lockdown restrictions and increased usage of substances like crystal meth, using statistical data and hospital admission records.
  8. Apply the theoretical knowledge of NPS to practical scenarios, particularly in the clinical management of NPS, demonstrating a working understanding of interventions and treatments.
  9. Engage in informed discussions about NPS, demonstrating critical thinking, analytical skills, and a broad understanding of the subject.
  10. Use knowledge gained to promote awareness, propose preventive measures, and guide interventions in different settings, contributing to individual and public health security.