Emergency Response Training for cases of acute intoxication with New Psychoactive Substances

Implementing Organization
UNODC Prevention Treatment and Rehabilitation Section

This initiative targets health workers in emergency settings, focusing on the management of cases involving acute intoxication, with a special focus on New Psychoactive Substances (NPS). Primary objectives include enhancing the capacity of healthcare professionals to rapidly and effectively respond to emergencies related to the non-medical use of psychoactive substances, including potential NPS use. It seeks to fill critical gaps in emergency healthcare by providing specialized training on the identification, assessment, and immediate intervention for cases involving intoxication with emerging psychoactive substances. It furthermore provides guidance on how to provide ongoing care and link people that have experienced an acute intoxication with continuing services. 

Accomplishments to Date

A training workshop was organized on clinical aspects on NPS and was delivered on 23-25 October 2017 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in collaboration with UNODC Global Project - Treating drug dependence and its health consequences: Treatnet II 

Project Activities

This capacity building initiative aims to provide health workers with the knowledge and skills required to effectively handle cases of acute intoxication with NPS. It targets especially health professionals in emergency services, ambulances, toxicologists and first responders in cases of acute intoxication with psychoactive substances. Following a structured scheme, each training module aligns with the UNODC/WHO International Standards for the Treatment of Drug Use Disorders, ensuring a consistent and evidence-based approach. Focus is on the identification of immediate health needs, life-saving management of acute intoxication symptoms, followed by continued care and linkages with more comprehensive health and social services. In addition, all training sessions are complemented by pre- and post-tests to assess the enhancement of participants' knowledge and attitudes.  

Global Level Outcomes
  • Strengthen the global response framework of NPS challenges. 
  • Elevate awareness and knowledge regarding different types of psychoactive substances. 
  • Ensure that emergency responders are adequately equipped to address the cases of acute intoxication involving NPS. 
  • Encourage cooperation and cultivate international resilience and preparedness against the evolving threats posed by new psychoactive substances 
National Level Outcomes
  • Improve the emergency response competency of healthcare professionals within participating countries, ensuring that they are confident to handle acute intoxication cases involving NPS. 
  • Contribute to the development and adoption of national protocols based on NPS-related emergency responses and improve the collection and reporting of data related to NPS intoxication cases. 
  • Enhance collaboration among Member States to address current challenges on the NPS framework and increase awareness regarding the risks associated with New Psychoactive Substances. 
  • Ensure the sustainability of knowledge and skills acquired during the program, fostering ongoing improvement in emergency response capabilities. 

Current State Participants

UNODC’s capacity building package on health responses to NPS use has already been piloted in Central Asia. 


Anja Busse UNODC PTRS anja [dot] busse [at] un [dot] org (anja[dot]busse[at]un[dot]org) https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/treatment-and-care/ Giovanna Campello UNODC PTRS giovanna [dot] campello [at] un [dot] org (giovanna[dot]campello[at]un[dot]org) https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/drug-prevention-and-treatment/index.html