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Specialist outpatient clinic – New psychoactive substances (NPS)

Doctors in charge

Dr. med. Kristina Adorjan, PD Dr. med. Gabi Koller, Prof. Dr. med. Oliver Pogarell, Dr. med. Tobias Rüther

In recent years there has been a rapid proliferation of new psychoactive substances (NPS) worldwide. Between 2009 and 2016, 106 countries reported a total of 739 different substances to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

What are new psychoactive substances?

Synthetically manufactured substances with psychoactive effects, also called ’designer drugs‘, ’legal highs‘ or ’research chemicals‘, are grouped under the name ’new psychoactive substances‘ (NPS). NPS are molecular variations of known illegal drugs (including cannabis, cocaine, LSD) or substances with completely new chemical structures. They can be classified as follows:

- Synthetic cannabinoids (herbal mixtures, ’spice‘) 
- Synthetic cathinones (mephedrone, methylone) 
- Phenethylamine (4-methylamphetamine, amphetamine derivatives) 
- Piperazine
- Tryptamine

Why are the NPS so dangerous?

The rapid changes in the composition of substances makes it difficult to estimate the effects of NPS on the body. Acute poisoning is often associated with vegetative side effects such as increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, chest pain, gastric and intestinal complaints, increased body temperature, heavy sweating and increased muscle tone. Sleep disorders, anxieties, agitation, hallucinations and seizures can also occur. An overdose or a combination with other substances can have fatal consequences. Repeated consumption often leads to abuse, dependence, mental illnesses such as depression and psychosis, physical health problems and reductions in quality of life. The constant change in the chemical structures of existing substances means that only limited legal controls and traceability of NPS are possible. Thus, in terms of identification, control, prevention and treatment alternatives NPS represent a major challenge for medicine and politics.

What kind of patients do we see?

All patients who have been in contact with NPS can come to our specialist outpatient clinic:
-Consumers of NPS (people who use NPS occasionally, who abuse NPS or who are addicted to them)
-Pregnant patients, mothers with children
-Patients with physical or mental concomitant diseases
-Patients who have already come into conflict with the law because of their use of such substances

Do I need to have a diagnosis already?

No. In our specialist outpatient clinic we also provide consultations for relatives of people who are already ill and for people who have had their very first contact with NPS.

What happens at the outpatient clinic?

We have an in-depth initial conversation with our patients where we discuss the further diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. Patients are given detailed information about outpatient, inpatient and day hospital treatment options and about possible treatments with medicine and psychotherapy.

How often do I have to go to the outpatient clinic?

After the first appointment, depending on your particular situation follow-up appointments can be arranged in the NPS outpatient clinic.

Do I have to register beforehand, and/or do I need a referral?

You must register beforehand (see contact information below) to arrange an appointment in the NPS specialist outpatient clinic. You do not need a referral.

Can I participate in studies?

Yes. If you are interested in participating in scientific studies, we can gladly send you information on ongoing research projects.

Hours of operation:

To make an appointment you can reach us from Monday to Friday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. at the following telephone number: +49-089-4400-52739.


Hospital of the University of Munich

Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy

Nussbaumstrasse 7
80336 Munich