New Psychoactive Substances Consumption in Opioid-Use Disorder Patients

Maria Alías-Ferri, Manuela Pellegrini, Emilia Marchei, Roberta Pacifici, Maria Concetta Rotolo, Simona Pichini, Clara Pérez-Mañá, Esther Papaseit, Robert Muga, Francina Fonseca, Marta Torrens, Magí Farré

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


(1) Background: Since the beginning of the 21st century, the large number and wide chemical variety of new psychoactive substances (NPS) that enter the market every year has become a public health problem. Given the rapidity with which the drug market is changing, many NPS are not clinically investigated and their effects and health risks are unknown. Drug testing is a very useful tool for this purpose, but, unfortunately, it is not very widespread in individuals with opioid-use disorder under detoxification treatment. The aim of this study is to investigate the use of illicit drugs and NPS in opioid-use disorder (OUD) patients on opioid agonist treatment. (2) Methods: A multicenter, descriptive, cross-sectional study was conducted at two addiction care services in Barcelona and Badalona, Spain. Urine samples were collected from OUD individuals attending these two centers, who anonymously donated a urine sample at the time of a periodical visit. Samples were analyzed by high-sensitivity gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography-high –resolution mass spectrometry (UHPLC-HRMS). (3) Results: Out of the 187 collected and analyzed urine samples, 27.3% were positive for any type of NPS and 8.6% were positive for new synthetic opioids, including fentanyl and its derivatives (NSO). Other frequently detected substances were benzodiazepines in 46.0% of samples, antipsychotics in 27.8% of samples, or cocaine and cannabis in 23.5% of samples. (4) Conclusion: A wide number of NPS, including NSO, have been detected in urine samples from an OUD population. A lack of NPS detection in standard drug screening among drug users can hide the identification of a potential public health problem.

Original languageEnglish
Article number645
Number of pages9
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


  • new psychoactive substances
  • opioid-use disorder
  • urine sample analysis


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