The availability of new psychoactive substances (NPS) in Europe has rapidly increased over the last decade, as seen by the growing numbers of seizures reported to the EU Early Warning System (EWS) and via standard monitoring mechanisms. The number of new substances detected also continues to grow, with 101 new drugs detected in 2014. 

In European countries, initial responses to the emergence of NPS have been predominantly regulatory in nature, focused on tackling their supply using legislative tools. Increasingly, however, attention is being paid to developing targeted education and prevention activities, as well as training and awareness-raising activities for professionals. 

Information on health responses to NPS use and harms is emerging but, in many cases, remains anecdotal. Data reveal that drug users presenting, or at risk of, NPS-related harms are observed, or may seek help and information in, a variety of settings. 

From 28–29 October, the EMCDDA will be organising, for the first time, a meeting dedicated to the topic of health responses to NPS. The event aims to identify existing best practice, training and intervention needs as well as related policy considerations for Europe. 

The meeting brings together 15 European health professionals and researchers experienced in providing interventions relating to NPS, or knowledgeable in this domain. They will focus on responding to NPS in a variety of health and intervention settings (family and school; accident and hospital emergency departments and poison centres; bars, clubs and festivals; sexual health clinics, specialised treatment centres, low-threshold agencies; prisons; helplines and e-health).

The meeting will lay the foundations for an EMCDDA publication in 2016 addressing NPS-related harms and health-related interventions. The publication will be practice-oriented and of added value to professionals working in these settings.

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