Growing concerns about substitution of psychoactive substances

  • Public Health Wales
  • 25 Jun 2019

  • curated by Pavankumar Kamat
  • UK Medical News
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The Welsh Emerging Drugs and Identification of Novel substances (WEDINOS) service from Public Health Wales (PHW) has found an emerging trend of substitution of substances within drug groups in the samples submitted for testing.

Benzodiazepines are the most commonly identified class of psychoactive substances. WEDINOS has particularly witnessed a greater frequency of substitution amongst samples submitted as benzodiazepines. Among the samples submitted as diazepam in the first quarter of 2019, 71 per cent were found to have other substances. For the first time this year, benzodiazepine samples submitted in blister packs were found to have a substance other than that mentioned on the pack.

WEDINOS has witnessed a 58 per cent rise in the number of samples received for testing in 2018-2019 compared with the previous year. According to the latest annual report of WEDINOS, there has been a significant rise in the submission of non-prescribed ‘prescription’ medications for testing.

Josie Smith, Head of Substance Misuse for PHW and Programme Lead for WEDINOS said: "As substitute substances have varying therapeutic doses and duration of effects, there is a concern in relation to the increased potential for an individual to experience adverse and acute effects; including accidental overdose, hospitalisation and death."