Psychopharmacology, Drug Misuse and Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS) Research Unit

The Unit facilitates the development of powerful working groups who have had considerable success in gaining EU-based external funding, and producing high-impact research.

The Psychopharmacology, Drug Misuse and Novel Psychoactive Substances Research Unit has a close connection, some shared membership and interests with the Medicinal and Analytical Chemistry Group (MACG), particularly in respect of NPS and natural products.

Research areas

The Unit has carried out research projects in a range of areas, including:

  • Epidemiology of drug misuse, including drug mortality and 'near misses', and associated indicators
  • Pharmacovigilance/toxicovigilance approaches in assessing the abuse potential of prescription and 'over the counter' drugs
  • Web-based studies of Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS) and traditional drugs
  • Deep web; dark net; and NPS trading
  • NPS and preclinical pharmacological issues
  • Analytical chemistry issues relating to NPS
  • Performance- and Image-Enhancing (PIEDs; lifestyle drugs) drugs’ misuse

Current EC-funded projects:

  • EU-MADNESS (2014-2016)
  • Enhancing Police Skills concerning NPS (2015-2016)

Previous EC-funded projects: Leonardo da Vinci Programme (2012-2013); eDNet (2010-2012); Lifelong Learning program providing opportunities of vocational training under GRUNDTVIG ASSISTANTSHIP (2010-2011); Psychonaut Web Mapping System (2008-2009); Psychonaut 2002 (2002-2004); TREAT 2000 (2000-2003)

Further grant applications are currently being identified, focusing on EC-funding and international collaborations. These include epidemiology of NPS-related deaths in Europe with a particular focus on Ibiza (the capital city of disco clubs); preclinical work relating to a range of NPS; global online survey of the use of novel psychoactive substances; preclinical investigation on ketamine intake urological consequences; ‘in silico’ studies focusing on a range of synthetic cannabinoids; microdialysis studies focusing on a range of novel stimulant drugs: research in prisons related to NPS misuse; and finally the ‘Keep Fit’ study on the use of PIEDs in leisure centres.


Very high numbers of research papers; review papers; editorials; posters; and high profile book chapters being published over the last 3 years. Results of some of the EU Commission-funded studies have increased the NPS-knowledge base and contributed to new policy/legislation having been implemented at UK and European levels.