Synthetic psychoactive drugs pose growing problem

The rising popularity of novel psychoactive drugs commonly referred to as ‘legal highs' is creating new challenges for doctors and law enforcement agencies, say WA researchers.

About 18% of 18-35-year-olds in WA who took part in an online survey reported that they had used at least one novel psychoactive substance (NPS) in their lifetime — the same proportion that had tried cocaine.

The most popular NPS, which refers to plant-based or chemical-based drugs that imitate the effects of illegal drugs, were synthetic cannabis products such as Kronic, K2 and Spice that are made by spraying THC-like chemicals on dried plant matter.

Out of the 500 survey responders, about 18% of males and 11% of females had tried synthetic cannabis.

The study findings showed far higher NPS use among this age group than was expected. The National Drug Strategy Household Survey found only 0.4% of Australians aged 14 and above