Health and Social Care Workers Perceptions of Novel Psychoactive substances in Northern Ireland

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Background: The EU Early Warning System currently monitors more than 450 new psychoactive substances (EMCDDA, 2015), far outweighing the total number of illicit drugs under international control (UNODC, 2013). Due to the recent emergence of NPS and rapidly changing nature of the market, evidence about the way in which the emerging drugs are managed in health and social care settings is limited. Methods: The study adopted a mixed methods design, utilising a cross sectional survey and follow up telephone interviews to capture data from staff working in drug and alcohol related services in statutory and voluntary sectors, across the five Health and Social Care (HSC) Trust areas in Northern Ireland. 196 staff participated in the survey and 13 took part in follow up telephone interviews. Results: Study respondents reported that addressing NPS related issues with service users was a key aspect of their daily role and function. Levels of injecting behaviours were also viewed as relatively high by the study participants. Almost all workers used harm reduction as their primary approach when working with service users and the majority of respondents called for additional practical training in relation to addressing drug interactions and intervening with NPS related issues.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-101
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
Early online date06 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017


  • NPS
  • psychoactive drugs
  • workers
  • service users


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