Novel Psychoactive Substances. Research chemicals. Legal Highs. None of these terms seems right to describe the growing number of compounds available which, despite being marked as room deodorisers, bath salts, plant food or whatever else, are bought on the assumption that taking the contents will bring on some kind of buzz.
Novel, or even New, Psychoactive Substances is such a clumsy and unwieldy phrase as to be almost unusable. The abbreviation NPS is hardly better. Research Chemicals at least suggests there is something unknown or undiscovered about the substance, but also hints that whatever it is might be cutting edge in some way, rather than a shot in the dark taken to stay one step ahead of the legal system.
Legal highs, as has been pointed out, suggests a degree of safety for the contents, by hinting that the chemical is somehow approved, rather than not specifically legislated against. The problem is, legal highs is the easiest of the phrases to say, and so the most likely to be used day to day.
I’d like to suggest the term N-Chems, meaning new chemicals, to refer to these substances which are more recently being taken. It is relatively easy to say, and doesn’t imply that the substance is safe when its effects really are likely to be largely unknown.
What do you think? Are there any better suggestions? Ask around, and let us know…
Phil Lord No Limits DASH Recovery Worker
At No Limits our DASH service can give you information, advice, support and counselling around substance misuse and offers a variety of treatments, including harm reduction and needle exchange. You can learn more about the substance you are using, their effects and risks and learn how to keep yourself safe if using drugs or alcohol.