Home > Research > Publications & Outputs > Not Particularly Special

Electronic data

  • NPS accepted pre-proof version

    Rights statement: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy on 12/12/2017, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/09687637.2017.1411885

    Accepted author manuscript, 0.99 MB, PDF document

    Available under license: CC BY-NC: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License


Text available via DOI:

View graph of relations

Not Particularly Special: critiquing ‘NPS’ as a category of drugs

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2018
<mark>Journal</mark>Drugs: Education, Prevention, and Policy
Issue number4
Number of pages8
Pages (from-to)329-336
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date12/12/17
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS) have been a dominant feature of drug discourse for many years now and, in academic, policy and public discourse, have become established as a new – and by implication, distinct – category of drugs. We argue that this understanding of NPS is fundamentally problematic. Differences within the category are obscured, as are similarities between NPS and more established categories of drugs. Focusing on NPS as something new, different or particularly special is misleading and counterproductive and can have serious consequences in terms of understanding the bigger picture in relation to illegal drugs more generally. This has led to overestimations of the size of the NPS problem, obfuscation of the common underlying causes of dependent drug use, and the implementation of significant and problematic policy changes. Further, a failure to see the rise in NPS as just one of a number of emerging trends in contemporary drug scenes, alongside the development of online markets or the rise in domestic drug production operations, for example, impairs our ability to understand the wider societal, cultural and theoretical underpinnings of drug use. NPS are not particularly special: treating them as such can have dangerous and far-reaching consequences.