NPS (research chemicals)

What are NPS?

New drugs are regularly introduced on the market that are ‘comparable’ in effect to traditional ‘illegal’ drugs, but which are not (yet) subject to drug legislation, and are often produced to circumvent the law. These substances are known under the collective term New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) and are also known as designer drugs, research chemicals (RCs) or legal highs.

Because they are new substances, often little or no research has been done. Little or nothing is therefore known about the (psychoactive) effects of the drug, the long- and short-term consequences, the risk of addiction, and the consequences of frequent use. It is also unknown which dose produces desired effects and which poses possible dangers.

Always be extra careful with new drugs. If you don’t want to take a risk, don’t use drugs. This applies even more to resources that fall into the category NPS: You are your own guinea pig.

Other names for NPS are legal highs, research chemicals or designer drugs.

Well known NPS


There are countless new substances. For every existing banned substance, there are several substances that have a similar effect. There are stimulating NPS such as 4-FA (4-FMP), Benzo fury and mephedrone (4-MMC). There are narcotic NPS like synthetic cannabinoids (moonlight) and variants of benzodiazepines, and there are psychedelics like 2C-B and NBOMe.

Dose and route of administration

The dosage per substance varies considerably. This can be from less than a milligram to several hundred milligrams. Especially for substances with a low dose, it is highly recommended to use an accurate scale that can weigh 1 milligram (0.001 gram).

Most new drugs are sold as white powder. They are usually swallowed or snorted, although smoking, spraying and plugging (anal administration) are also common. But nowadays capsules and pills also occur.


The duration of action varies greatly from drug to drug. Look at the information about the drug itself.


Because most of these substances or research chemicals have not yet been investigated, little or nothing is often known about the potential risks in the short term, let alone in the long term. Always be careful with new (unknown) drugs.

You really are your own guinea pig!


Combining different types of drugs can be risky and unpredictable. When you combine drugs you can have a higher risk of health problems. In the following paragraphs you can read about the effects and the risks of a number of combinations that occur frequently and also a about few that are extra hazardous. Also check our theme combining drugs.

The influence of combinations varies enormously per drug. So look at the information of the drug itself for information about combinations.

Unity tips

  • Know that you are your own guinea pig
  • Use an accurate scale to measure the desired dosage
  • Know that not every source is reliable (not even online). Therefore, always have your drug tested. Almost all NPS can be tested nowadays. However, it might occur that even for the testing service a substance is unknown. But that is rare. They can share the latest knowledge about the product with you at the drug checking service.
  • If you are taking a new drug, start with a much smaller dose than you need in order to notice something from it. Wait three weeks and then take a dose twice the size of the previous one until you feel the effect once. Again, three weeks later you do not take the double of the previous amount but you take a small amount more. You then slowly build up to the dose at which you should achieve a desired effect.

Do you want more information, do you have a question or do you want to talk about this or another drug? Check out the contact details in your area or send an e-mail to

Check here a movie made by Drugs Meter (Global Drug Survey) with their harm reduction tips for the first use of a new drug:


How do you dose powder or capsules?

To be able to weigh a certain dose properly, you need a good scale. Have a scale that can weigh milligrams, to 3 decimal places (0.001 mg). A scale that weighs 0.01 (2 decimal places) may be just accurate enough for MDMA, but not for many other substances.

Where can you find such a scale?

On the large international online webshops you can find scales for around 20 euros that can weigh 3 figures after the decimal point. You can buy empty capsules in different sizes at pharmacies, smart shops or drugstores. Some are also suitable for vegetarians. You can write the drug and dosage on the capsule with a waterproof marker or a CD marker.

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