Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Characteristics of Novel Psychoactive Substance Exposures Reported to New York City Poison Center, 2011-2014

Novel psychoactive substances (NPS) are emerging at an unprecedented rate. Likewise, prevalence of use and poisonings has increased in recent years.

To compare characteristics of NPS exposures and non-NPS-drug-related exposures and to examine whether there are differences between exposures involving synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists (SCRAs) and other NPS.

Poison control center data from the five counties of New York City and Long Island were examined from 2011-2014. We examined prevalence and characteristics of NPS exposures (classified as intentional abuse) and compared characteristics of cases involving SCRAs and other NPS.

Prevalence of NPS exposures was 7.1% in 2011, rising to 12.6% in 2014. Most exposures (82.3%) involved SCRA use. The second and third most prevalent classes were phenethylamines/synthetic cathinones ("bath salts"; 10.2%) and psychedelic phenethylamines (4.3%). Compared to other drug-related exposures (i.e. involving licit and illicit drugs), those who used NPS were more likely to be younger, male, and to have not co-used other drugs (ps < 0.001). SCRA exposures increased sharply in 2014 and the mean age of users increased over time (p < 0.01). Females exposed to SCRAs were younger than males (p < 0.001), and in 2014, individuals exposed to SCRAs were more likely to report concomitant use of alcohol than users of other NPS (p = 0.010). Users of other NPS were more likely than SCRA users to report concomitant use of ecstasy/3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)/"Molly" (p < 0.001).

Exposures reported to the poison center that involve NPS are increasing and the majority involve SCRAs. These findings should inform prevention and harm reduction approaches.

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By:  Palamar JJ1, Su MK2,3, Hoffman RS2.
1a Department of Population Health , New York University Langone Medical Center , New York , NY , USA.
2b Division of Medical Toxicology , New York University School of Medicine , New York , NY , USA.
3c New York City Poison Control Center , New York , NY , USA.
 2015 Dec 17:1-9. 

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