The Four Types of NPS

Four types of NPS

New psychoactive substances (NPS), or as they were formally known, legal highs are mood-altering or stimulant substances made up of various chemical ingredients. NPS replicate a similar user experience of drugs such as cannabis, ecstasy and cocaine and are extremely addictive.

The main effects of all NPS can be split into four categories:


A stimulant substance (or ‘upper’) temporarily increases alertness and energy. Physically, these drugs put a strain on the nervous system and increase blood pressure and heart rate. They can also severely affect the immune system, making the body more susceptible to illness.

This type of drug can also induce psychological issues such as anxiety, panic, paranoia and in extreme cases psychosis.


Sedatives (or ‘downers’) are central nervous system depressants, a category of drugs that slow down normal brain function. They can reduce concentration and slow down reactions, making the user feel physically unsteady and lethargic.

As sedatives slow down the body the result can often be unconsciousness and in more extreme cases, coma or death. The risk of this is heightened particularly when mixed with alcohol or other sedatives. Withdrawal can lead to anxiety and is even more dangerous if severe withdrawal symptoms develop in a heavy drug user.


A hallucinogenic NPS is a drug which mimics the effects of drugs like LSD, ketamine or magic mushrooms etc. They cause psychedelic reactions which cause the user to act erratically, putting their own safety at serious risk.

These drugs can interfere with judgement which can lead to a host of issues in an uncontrolled environment. The confusion, panic and strong hallucinatory effects mean the user is not in control of themselves or the environment around them, leading to accidents and injury.

Synthetic Cannabinoids

Synthetic cannabinoids refer to a growing number of man-made mind-altering chemicals sold as shredded plant material so they can be smoked, or as liquids which can be vaporized and inhaled in e-cigarettes and other devices. These substances are supposed to provide the user with the same effects as cannabis, but they are often much stronger.

Large doses of synthetic cannabinoids can lead to life-threatening intoxication. They can also affect the central nervous system, causing seizures, high blood pressure, rapid heart rate and increased body temperature. The substances are highly addictive and the side-effects are often impossible to predict as the potency is difficult to measure.

About Randox Testing Services

Randox Testing Services is at the forefront of developing tests to detect the presence of NPS.

In the endless pursuit of creating innovative tests for new and emerging legal highs, our expertise sets us apart from the rest of the industry. We provide tests for identifying NPS and operate to provide accurate results and customer satisfaction. For more information on our tests for psychoactive substances visit or contact us at

Watch our timeline showing the legislation changes and new testing measures brought in to tackle the use of NPS: Click here to watch