Welsh project launched on new psychoactive substances

Published on Friday, 31 January 2014 10:27
Written by Daniel Mason

Public Health Wales and its partners have developed a project designed to collect information on new psychoactive substances.

The Welsh Government-funded project WEDINOS (Welsh Emerging Drugs and Identification of Novel Substances) is the first of its kind.

WEDINOS collects and tests novel substances and encourages users to report the effects they have experienced.

Information can then be provided back to users and relevant services on the harms associated with the drugs via the project website.

A new psychoactive substance is legally defined by the European Union as 'a new narcotic or psychotropic drug, in pure form or in preparation, that is not already listed under control of drugs legislation but which may pose a public health threat'.

The Substance Misuse Team in Public Health Wales runs the project in partnership with Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, whose toxicology laboratories are responsible for the testing of substances.

Josie Smith, national lead for substance misuse for Public Health Wales, said: "We know that some users of new psychoactive substances are at risk of a number of serious adverse effects.

"These can include physical, psychological and behavioural effects following drug taking, but there may also be longer term effects of which we know very little. The project aims to address both."

New, unidentified or unusual drugs or combinations of substances are submitted to WEDINOS by users themselves, and participating organisations such as substance misuse services, housing and hostels, youth clubs and young people's services, education services, night clubs and bars, mental health community teams, local authorities, the ambulance service and the police.

Sample packs can be returned for testing anonymously and the results can then be checked on the WEDINOS website, to find out what the substance contained and what is known about the effects of the drug, along with harm reduction advice.

Josie Smith added: "By knowing what new psychoactive substances contain, and what effects they have had on users – both expected and unexpected – we can issue pragmatic advice to users to help them make informed choices and to protect themselves from harm.

"It also allows us to share our findings with those working with new psychoactive substances, and this acts as an 'early warning' system so that the relevant people are aware of the substances circulating in Wales and their potential effects."

Next steps for the WEDINOS project include working with other healthcare providers, including the pharmacy service and accident and emergency departments, to discuss how they might contribute.

Source: Public Health Wales

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