We haven’t yet seen the spike in emerging psychoactive substances in Australia that we have seen in the UK, but we need to be very cautious, warns NDARC's Dr Lucy Burns. It is not clear yet what the effects of these substances are, or what other substances may be mixed with them. Many of the drugs have chemical profiles that are unknown and may have significant adverse health problems.
Reported harms include heart palpitations, symptoms of anxiety and agitation. Psychosis and very erratic behaviour have also been reported.
Mephedrone, a widely reported on synthetic, has broadly similar effects to ecstasy, but has a higher potential for dependence, and ‘cravings’ are much greater than for ecstasy.
Dr Burns oversees a number of national and state based illicit drug monitoring systems that are designed to pick up emerging trends among regular drug users.