“Legal Highs”: new psychoactive drugs

January 23, 2012, 1:25 am


“Legal Highs” – novel and emerging psychoactive drugs: a chemical overview for the toxicologist.  Gibbons S Clin Toxicol 2012;50:15-24.


“Legal highs” are chemicals that have structural and pharmacological similarities to controlled substances. They are often sold and labelled as innocuous products such as “bath salts”, “plant food”, or “pond cleaner”, with warnings that they are not for human consumption. Because many of these drugs are novel and not well studied, often little is known about their clinical characteristics.
This review article searched the internet to identify some chemicals being sold as “legal highs” in Britain. As for how the search was done, the author’s attitude seems to be : “Methods? We don’t need no stinkin’ methods!”  He covers a good number of chemicals, but the paper is very heavy on structural comparisons and there is little here that will interest clinicians.

A better organized discussion of much of the same material can be found in the recent Hill and Thomas article “Clinical Toxicology of Newer Recreational Drugs“.
Related posts:

“Party pills”: review of BZP and TFMPP

 CBS News reports on the designer drug 2 C-E and the death of a Minnesota teenager

Mephedrone review

Confirmed mephedrone-associated fatality

How does the body handle mephedrone and other designer drugs?

Mephedrone (meow-meow): first confirmed report 

Nexus (2C-B) associated with Significant Cerebral Vasospasm 

Ayahuasca – a pharmacologically fascinating psychedelic brew 



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