Pediatrics in Review

 Novel Drugs of Abuse

Novel drugs of abuse are synthetic illicit drugs, or analogues of known illicit drugs, that can be more potent. Novel drugs of abuse are often labeled as designer drugs, research chemicals, legal highs, or psychoactive substances. They are often sold as designated legal or nondrug products, such as incense, plant food, or bath salts, with labeling such as "Not for Human Consumption" or "For Use in Research Only." The prevalence of use of novel drugs of abuse is difficult to determine because specific drugs, compounds, and availability of these drugs are constantly evolving. Changes in chemical structures lead to heterogeneity in physiologic response and clinical symptoms, even within the same category of drug. Pediatricians and emergency medicine physicians should be knowledgeable about novel drugs of abuse and their resulting symptoms for prevention and identification of their use.