Author: UNDCP

January 10th, 2017

In the ever-widening discourse on substance abuse, it is frequently asserted that the key problem of the future will be associated with what are commonly known as synthetic drugs. The present paper is an attempt to assess the validity of this proposition. The subject is too vast and intricate to cover in a single review, but guidance for achieving a manageable focus can be found in two areas: the level of international consensus in defining a critical area and the nature of the substances themselves. With regard to defining the key area, the Economic and Social Council, reflecting the common concerns of many States Members of the United Nations, adopted resolution 1995/20 calling for a thorough study of psychotropic substances, particularly stimulants and their precursors. Even the category >stimulants=, however, is a very wide one, covering a large range of substances whose principal pharmacological effect is to stimulate the central nervous system of the body. There is some pragmatic justification, detailed in Table 1, in narrowing this category down to a group of substances that are similar, not only in their pharmacological effect but also in chemical structure: the amphetamine-type stimulants (abbreviated, throughout this review, as ATS).

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