Drugs of abuse

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionary


The illicit drug market is constantly changing and evolving. The most prevalent drugs continue to be cannabis, amphetamine-type substances, cocaine and heroin, however relatively new or novel psychoactive substances also rapidly appear on the market, particularly since 2008, with varying degrees of societal impact. For example, the increasingly prevalent nonmedical use of the synthetic opioid fentanyl and its increasingly novel and diverse analogues is a clear threat to public health and a continually emerging challenge to criminal justice systems and clinical and forensic scientists worldwide. Production and distribution methods can change due to innovations and alterations in drug synthesis, production methods and supply networks, as can the types of drugs synthesized in response to local and global legislation and demand. This article provides an introductory overview of the drugs most commonly analyzed by forensic drug and toxicology laboratories and clinical toxicology laboratories as well as looking at recent developments in the new psychoactive substances (NPS) market.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Analytical Science
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9780081019832
ISBN (Print)9780081019849
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


  • Amphetamine
  • Cannabis
  • Cocaine
  • Fentanyl
  • Heroin
  • Illicit drugs
  • Methamphetamine
  • New psychoactive substances
  • Novel psychoactive substances
  • Production

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry


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