Although their history goes back into the 20th century, designer drugs are a phenomenon that has become significant since the turn of the millennium. Designer drugs, new psychoactive substances (NPS), research chemicals and legal highs are all terms that partly of fully overlap with each other. We use the term designer drug to emphasize that the substances we describe with that term are designed in laboratories and that they are synthetic.
Raising concerns amongst health professionals, epidemiologists and law enforcement, designer drugs are a group of substances that is constantly expanding and ranging in the number of a few hundred. Designer drugs is an umbrella term that covers substances from various categories like opioids, cannabinoids, psychedelics or stimulants. Since they are created by making only minor changes in the chemical structure of a better-known substance, they sometimes produce comparable effects and side effects and sometimes completely new ones. Their creation, experimentation and distribution is highly interwoven with the globalization of knowledge and information and communication technologies.
Due to that unique background, we decided to have a closer look at the extensive list of designer drugs that we found on Wikipedia. The list on Wikipedia exceeds the ones that we received from the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).