Monday, 12 March 2012

First international conference on designer drugs

The emergence of new recreational drugs, combined with the internet’s ability to spread information quickly, is a new challenge for public health.  These new drugs, also known as “designer drugs” or “legal highs”, are advertised online as “safe” and “legal” alternatives to the most common controlled illicit drugs (like cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy, ketamine, etc.). 

The first international conference on these novel psychoactive substances is taking place this week (12-13 March) in Budapest, Hungary. ‘The Ever-Changing World of Psychoactive Drugs’ conference is co-organised by Professor Fabrizio Schifano and Dr Ornella Corazza from the School of Pharmacy, and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).

This event is an opportunity to share scientific knowledge on the nature of these new substances as well as the forensic, clinical and legal challenges faced today. From novel prevention models to a widely accessible online marketplace, all of these issues have become increasingly prominent in the fields of drug policy, substance use research and public health.

The ReDNet and previous Psychonaut research projects, headed by the University of Hertfordshire, and funded by the European Commission have identified more than 450 novel compounds and combinations. These include new piperazines, synthetic cathinones, synthetic cannabinoids, phenethylamine, various ethno-drugs and hallucinogenic compounds.

For further information on the conference, please visit the ReDNet project website at

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