What Are New Psychoactive Substances (NPS)?

In 2006, drug manufacturers began creating new psychoactive substances, or NPSs. They sought to provide users with an alternative to illegal drugs, one that mimicked the high of those drugs without actually breaking any laws.

Manufacturers were creating new drugs faster than government agencies could ban them, and many of these drugs are still legal today.

However, low-quality NPS in the US is increasing. These days, it’s much harder to tell what you’re getting when you buy an NPS product because they often contain multiple chemicals with unknown effects.

If you’re thinking of buying an NPS online, read on. We’ll explain what they are and why people use them so that you can make a more informed decision about whether one would be right for your home pharmacy.

New Psychoactive Substances Explained

New psychoactive substances are synthetic drugs that produce effects similar to traditional mind-altering substances, such as cocaine. They come in all shapes and sizes, from pills to powders to liquids.

The downside to these chemicals is that they’re not tested for safety before going to consumers. NPSs can be very dangerous and addictive, even though they may appear harmless at first glance.

Because new psychoactive substances are often legal until they’re banned, some people think that it’s okay to use them because there aren’t any consequences if you get caught. However, this isn’t always true.

It’s not uncommon for police to suspect you’re involved with illegal drugs if they find you using or carrying an NPS product. You won’t be arrested for it, but you will probably end up on their radar.

Types of New Psychoactive Substances

New psychoactive substances are a broad category of drugs that have been developed in recent years. Some of them have been designed to mimic the effects of illegal street drugs, while others have been created as alternatives to traditional medications.

Synthetic Stimulants

Synthetic stimulants have similar effects to cocaine and amphetamines but have different chemical structures. This results in a more unique experience than the natural variant of the stimulant would provide. These are the primary groups of synthetic stimulants:


Phenethylamines give similar effects to MDMA and amphetamine. Examples include 2C-B, 2C-I, MDA, DOB, and DOC.

They can be smoked or snorted but are more commonly swallowed in pill form. There are also vape cartridges available that contain phenethylamine.

The effects of phenethylamine are like MDMA but longer lasting. They can increase energy, mood, sociability, and empathy. Some users report feeling vitalized with a desire to talk and move around, as well as feeling relaxed or sedated at high doses.

Synthetic Cathinones

Synthetic cathinones act like amphetamines, giving you a high that makes you feel alert, confident, and energetic. Mephedrone (MCAT) is one of the most common. It’s often sold as plant food.

Methylone is another popular synthetic cathinone, and it looks very similar to MDMA. For this reason, it’s sold as MDMA or ecstasy pills when it’s really not.

Mephedrone and methylone are two of the most popular illegal party drugs on the market—but their days may be numbered. Users are turning to 4fpd as a more accessible legal high. All you need to buy 4fpd online is a credit card and photo ID (sometimes).

Synthetic Cannabinoids

Synthetic cannabinoids mimic the effects of cannabis. These products contain fabricated delta-9 THC and can be more potent than normal weed.

There has been little research into their effects on people who use them compared with those who use natural cannabis, but some synthetic cannabinoids can be deadly.

This NPS, however controversial it may have been, was well-intentioned. The synthetic cannabinoids that are available today were created to help people who suffer from pain and other symptoms associated with cancer. The problem is that, for most people, these products don’t work as well as natural cannabis does.

Synthetic Hallucinogens

Synthetic hallucinogens are drugs that target serotonin receptors in the brain. These drugs can cause a distorted sense of reality.

Synthetic tryptamines are a class of synthetic hallucinogens that mimic the effects of psilocybin mushrooms. These chemicals are made in laboratories by combining various compounds, such as LSD and mescaline, with other chemicals like PCP or amphetamine.

These substances cause feelings of euphoria, but also lead to horrible panic attacks if used at high doses or mixed with other drug classes, such as opioids.

People who use synthetic hallucinogens may experience delusions and paranoia. They can also cause seizures and organ failure.

Why Do People Use New Psychoactive Substances?

New psychoactive substances can feel as mind-opening as drugs like LSD or ecstasy. Some people use them as legal highs—a way to get high that won’t show up on drug tests—but others take NPSs with no intention of getting high at all.

Users report feeling relaxed, energetic, or inspired when they take them. Some people say they feel less depressed after taking certain types of NPSs; others claim it helps them focus on their work or study more efficiently.

Because there isn’t much research about this class of substances yet (partly because of its recent emergence), it’s hard to know exactly why people choose NPSs over other substances like marijuana or cocaine. Despite their legality, NPSs are just as dangerous as illegal drugs. You can overdose on NPSs, and you don’t know exactly what’s in them—or how they will affect your body.

Try Legal Highs at Your Discretion

As you can see, there are many new psychoactive substances that people use for a variety of reasons. Some are alternatives to illegal drugs and others are intended for research. The bottom line is that anyone who uses any type of drug should know what they’re getting into before they do it.

Research is your best defense when shopping for chemicals. Our blog can make that research a little easier. Explore our health category for all sorts of information on chemicals and their synthetic counterparts.


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