“EU-MADNESS” stands for “EUropean-wide, Monitoring, Analysis and knowledge Dissemination on Novel/Emerging pSychoactiveS”.  The objective was to develop integrated monitoring and profiling of Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS) in Europe in order to prevent health harms and update relevant professionals. The project aimed: to monitor, test, profile, and feed back into education and prevention knowledge relating to the types of NPS emerging, their associated characteristics and potential harms.

The areas addressed by this project under the European Commission heading of “Drug Prevention and Information”  included: studies and research; exchange of best practice/study visits/staff exchanges; training, seminars/meetings/conferences.  This was done through one overall project aimed at sub-priority 4 (“Innovative methodologies to identify and monitor new trends and patterns in the consumption and adverse consequences of … new psychoactive substances”).  The project had 4 integrated workstreams (WS), whilst impacting as well on sub-priorities 1 (“Identify and develop innovative approaches ….to reduce drug-related deaths”) and 3 (“Develop approaches for the systematic collection of data on emergency rooms admission for drugs, with a particular focus on … stimulant and poly drug use”).

About €635,000 was awarded by the European Commission for this project which formally started on 1 April 2014 and lasted for 24 months. Led by researchers at the University of Hertfordshire, the project involved 12 partner institutions in Germany, Hungary, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. [For more details see “Meet the Team” and our “Our Partners”] There were three inter-weaving workstreams (WS) that combined to inform the fourth one. WS 1 was concerned with identifying and monitoring recent and emerging NPS using a range of data sources and informants. This information fed directly into WS 2 which used innovative techniques to establish the chemical composition and properties of selected NPS or classes of NPS. WS 3 examined pharmacological and behavioural effects of these substances. The information gained from these analyses was then compared to those of established drugs of misuse, to develop and continually refine robust computational models for recognising and predicting characteristic features of NPSs in unknown samples. Finally, WS 4 integrated ‘real-time’ NPS-related data identified in WS 1 with data from WS 2 and WS 3 to facilitate the generation of information to be used to inform targeted approaches in harm reduction (including deaths) and treatment.

We expect that the knowledge of such information in the medical/allied health professions will be improved, with a focus on the health impact/associated risks of NPS use. This will be achieved by producing a range of resources, in a number of European languages, including lectures, online teaching and e-learning resources on the health risks of NPS for use in inter-professional medical, pharmacy and health education settings.