Drugs Health Medical Pharma

WHO unveils online repository of 450 psychoactive drugs

The World Health Organization has posted a repository of more than 450 psychoactive drugs listing their abuses, harms, and dependence.

HQ Team

June 1, 2023: The World Health Organization has posted a repository of more than 450 psychoactive drugs listing their abuses, harms, and dependence.

The online freely accessible collection of information and reports on new psychoactive substances and medicines, for medical and scientific use, is meant for health professionals, experts, and policymakers to expand their understanding of these substances.

“This can contribute to increased implementation of effective public health responses relating to drugs, such as improving detection of substances and clinical treatment of overdose, and other related negative health consequences of drug use,” according to a WHO statement.

Psychoactive drugs are substances that, when taken in or administered into one’s system, affect mental processes, such as perception, consciousness, cognition, mood, and emotions.

Alcohol, nicotine

These drugs belong to a broader category of psychoactive substances that include also alcohol and nicotine.

Some also cause euphoria, increased energy, sleepiness, hallucinations, and more. Depending on the situation, the effects of psychoactive drugs may be beneficial or harmful.

The phrase “psychoactive drug” often refers to illegal substances, such as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), heroin, and cocaine. However, these drugs form part of a larger category of psychoactive substances, several of which are legal.

The repository, from WHO’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD), is a vital resource, as many of the substances reviewed by ECDD have otherwise limited information regarding their public health risk.

Additionally, this resource is important when sourcing information regarding the therapeutic use of psychoactive drugs.

The WHO’s ECDD consists of an independent group of experts in the field of psychoactive drugs and medicine.

Fixed criteria

It assesses the health risks and benefits of the use of psychoactive substances according to a set of fixed criteria.

The committee meets annually to review the public health impact of selected psychoactive substances and make recommendations on whether or not these psychoactive substances should be placed under international control of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND).

The CND is a policy making body comprising of 53 UN member states. Oversight of the implementation by countries of CND-adopted recommendations are provided by the International Narcotics Control Board.

In recent years, the WHO ECDD has advised the CND on the international control status of cannabis, which resulted in its reclassification for consideration for recognized therapeutic uses.


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