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Palamar JJ, Su MK, Hoffman RS. 
“Characteristics of novel psychoactive substance exposures reported to New York City Poison Center, 2011-2014”. 
Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2015 Dec 17;p1-9.

BACKGROUND: Novel psychoactive substances (NPS) are emerging at an unprecedented rate. Likewise, prevalence of use and poisonings has increased in recent years.

To compare characteristics of NPS exposures and non-NPS-drug-related exposures and to examine whether there are differences between exposures involving synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists (SCRAs) and other NPS.

METHODS: Poison control center data from the five counties of New York City and Long Island were examined from 2011-2014. We examined prevalence and characteristics of NPS exposures (classified as intentional abuse) and compared characteristics of cases involving SCRAs and other NPS.

RESULTS: Prevalence of NPS exposures was 7.1 in 2011, rising to 12.6 in 2014. Most exposures (82.3) involved SCRA use. The second and third most prevalent classes were phenethylamines/synthetic cathinones (bath salts; 10.2) and psychedelic phenethylamines (4.3). Compared to other drug-related exposures (i.e. involving licit and illicit drugs), those who used NPS were more likely to be younger, male, and to have not co-used other drugs (ps < 0.001). SCRA exposures increased sharply in 2014 and the mean age of users increased over time (p < 0.01). Females exposed to SCRAs were younger than males (p < 0.001), and in 2014, individuals exposed to SCRAs were more likely to report concomitant use of alcohol than users of other NPS (p = 0.010). Users of other NPS were more likely than SCRA users to report concomitant use of ecstasy/3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)/Molly (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: Exposures reported to the poison center that involve NPS are increasing and the majority involve SCRAs. These findings should inform prevention and harm reduction approaches.

Key Words: 4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine; MDMA); Novel psychoactive substances; drug exposures; ecstasy (3; synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists; synthetic cathinones
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