New psychoactive substances in Portugal
Promote a monitoring of New Psychoactive Substances’ situation in Portugal five years after the approval of the law that led to the closure of all smartshops in the country.
Trendspotter methodology developed by the EMCDDA. The following main methods were used:
a) Collection of bibliographic and other data;
b) Online surveys (questionnaire addressed to field assistants and professionals, and questionnaire addressed to NPS users);
c) Presentations at expert meeting;
d) Focus groups set up at expert meeting.
After the end of the NPS legal market in Portugal, the use of this type of substances decreased significantly and NPS are currently a phenomenon with little social visibility. According to the Portuguese experts, current NPS use in Portugal is mostly unintentional, and according to the users, the pattern of use is manly occasionally. Synthetic cannabinoids are the NPS category reportedly most consumed in Portugal. Nowadays, both Portuguese users and health professionals struggle with the NPS definition, frequently including in this category substances as ecstasy, methamphetamines or LSD.
The data gathered reinforces the idea that the prevalence of NPS use in Portugal is low when compared to that of illicit drugs (even excluding cannabis) and below the European average. However, considering the data from seized samples, drug-checking and metabolite research services, it can be seen that, similarly to other countries, unintentional NPS use is quite significant in Portugal as well. As such, it is possible that the prevalence of NPS use is higher than the values currently estimated through epidemiological studies.