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I like the old stuff better than the new stuff? Subjective experiences of new psychoactive substances

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 04:42 authored by Allison MatthewsAllison Matthews, Sutherland, R, Amy PeacockAmy Peacock, Van Buskirk, J, Whittaker, E, Burns, L, Raimondo BrunoRaimondo Bruno

Background: Over the past decade, monitoring systems have identified the rapid emergence of new psychoactive substances (NPS). While the use of many NPS is minimal and transitory, little is known about which products have potential for capturing the attention of significant proportions of the drug consuming market. The aim of this study was to explore self-reported experiences of three commonly used NPS classes within the Australian context (synthetic cathinones, hallucinogenic phenethylamines and hallucinogenic tryptamines) relative to traditional illicit drug counterparts.

Methods: Frequent psychostimulant consumers interviewed for the Australian Ecstasy and related Drugs Reporting System (EDRS) (n = 1208) provided subjective ratings of the pleasurable and negative (acute and longer-term) effects of substances used in the last six months on the last occasion of use, and the likelihood of future use.

Results: Stimulant-type NPS (e.g., mephedrone, methylone) were rated less favourably than ecstasy and cocaine in terms of pleasurable effects and likelihood of future use. DMT (a hallucinogenic tryptamine) showed a similar profile to LSD in terms of pleasurable effects and the likelihood of future use, but negative effects (acute and comedown) were rated lower. Hallucinogenic phenethylamines (e.g., 2C-B) showed a similar negative profile to LSD, but were rated as less pleasurable and less likely to be used again.

Conclusion: The potential for expanded use of stimulant-type NPS may be lower compared to commonly used stimulants such as ecstasy and cocaine. In contrast, the potential of DMT may be higher relative to LSD given the comparative absence of negative effects.


Publication title

International Journal of Drug Policy








School of Psychological Sciences



Place of publication


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© 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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Public health (excl. specific population health) not elsewhere classified

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