Deaths involving new psychoactive substances (NPS) have returned to previous levels. There were 125 deaths involving new psychoactive substances (NPS, previously known as "legal highs") in 2018, which equates to an age-standardised rate of 2.2 deaths per million people. This is a statistically significant increase from the 61 deaths in 2017 (1.0 per million), and a return to the level seen in 2016 when there were 123 deaths (2.1 per million). The government introduced the Psychoactive Substances Act in 2016, which established a blanket ban on the importation, production or supply of most psychoactive substances not already covered by the law.
The National Crime Agency, 2019 reports that the market for synthetic drugs appears to be expanding. Synthetic cannabinoids are one of the most commonly used new psychoactive substances (NPS), and contributed to 60 deaths in 2018, more than double the 24 deaths in 2017. The next most frequently mentioned NPS in 2018 was gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid (GHB; 27 deaths).
Source: Office for national statistics