UN Office on Drugs and Crime reports alarming rise in new psychoactive substancesListen /
While there has been a decline in the use of traditional drugs such as heroin and cocaine in some parts of the world, a UN report reveals growing use of prescription drugs and so-called "designer drugs."
The 2013 World Drug Report, released on Wednesday by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), finds new psychoactive substances are proliferating at an unprecedented rate, posing threats to public health.
The drugs, which have street names such as "spice," "meow-meow" and "bath salts," are sold openly, including online.
Justice Tettey, chief of the Laboratory and Scientific Section at UNODC in Vienna, says although these drugs are marketed as "legal highs," their effects are largely unknown.
"And what makes these things very dangerous is these substances have never been tested on humans. And unlike the cocaines and heroins on which a lot of studies have been done, with these substances, for most of them, we do not have any idea."
The UN agency is calling for concerted action to prevent the manufacture, trafficking and abuse of these substances.
Dianne Penn, United Nations.