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Not particularly special: critiquing ‘NPS’ as a category of drugs

Potter, Gary R., Chatwin, Caroline (2018) Not particularly special: critiquing ‘NPS’ as a category of drugs. Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy, 25 (4). pp. 329-336. ISSN 0968-7637. E-ISSN 1465-3370. (doi:10.1080/09687637.2017.1411885)

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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.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/09687637.2017.1411885
Uncontrolled keywords: NPS, Novel Psychoactive Substances, drugs, drug policy
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research
Depositing User: Caroline Chatwin
Date Deposited: 15 Dec 2017 14:47 UTC
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2020 04:17 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Chatwin, Caroline:
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