Determining the scale of designer drugs (DD) abuse and risk to public health in Poland through an epidemiological study in adolescents
More details
Hide details
Chief Sanitary Inspectorate, Warsaw, Poland
Institute of Haematology and Transfusion Medicine, Warsaw, Poland
Independent Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Institute of Rural Health, Lublin, Poland
Department of Public Health, University of Information Technology and Management, Rzeszow, Poland
National Bureau for Drug Prevention, Warsaw, Poland
Corresponding author
Lucyna Kapka-Skrzypczak   

Independent Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Institute of Rural Health, Lublin, Poland
Ann Agric Environ Med. 2012;19(3):357-364
Since 2008, it has been recognised by most health authorities worldwide that the abuse of newly-emerging psychoactive drugs, (‘designer drugs’/‘legal highs’; DD), in youth is a rapidly increasing problem, especially in the EU, threatening to offset gains made in tackling established and illegal drugs which they are intended to mimic; DD diversity is continually increasing to circumvent laws. The aim of the study was to determine the scale of DD abuse/availability amongst Polish youth. The surveyed test population was randomly selected from a representative group of adolescents attending high schools, secondary schools and universities throughout Poland. Questionnaires were completed by 14,511 subjects (10,083 school pupils and 4,428 students). Few persons from each group admitted using DDs; 453 school pupils (4.49%) vs. 81 students (1.83%). More males (4.74%) took DDs than females (2.77%). The tendency to take DDs in the company of friends was high in both DD-taking groups (>80%). DDs were consumed mostly in open spaces (34.15%), discos/pubs (21.13%) and boarding school/friend’s house (20.57). Most frequently, DDs came from shops (57.68%), friends (31.46%) or dealers (10.11%). Ensuing symptoms included; happy/euphoric mood (58.80%), talkativeness (42.51%) and hallucinations (22.85%). Over 74% of DD-takers in both groups experienced adverse reactions, and those requiring help sought it from: friends/colleagues (6.74%), doctors (5.06%), and hospitals (4.87%), but most rarely from parents/guardians (2.62%). Urgent action is being taken, especially in youth education, to prevent DDs becoming the serious menace seen with conventional drugs.
The state of the drugs problem in Europe, Annual report 2011, European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, 2011, Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, ISBN 978-92-9168-470, doi: 10.2810/44330 = (access: 2012.01.10).
Kapka-Skrzypczak L, Cyranka M, Wojtyła A. Dopalacze jako „palący” problem w kontekście zdrowia publicznego (Legal high as an urgent issue of public health). Zdr Publ. 2011; 121(2): 174-180.
Żukiewicz-Sobczak W, Zwoliński J, Chmielewska-Badora J, Krasowska E, Piątek J, Sobczak P, Wojtyła A, Fornal E, Kuczumow A, Biliński P. Analysis of psychoactive and intoxicating substances in legal high. Ann Agric Environ Med. 2012; 19(2): 309-14.
Więcej dopalaczy na unijnym rynku (More legal highs on the EU market), PAP, 11 July 2011. (access: 2012.01.10).
Kapka-Skrzypczak L, Kulpa P, Sawicki K, Cyranka M, Wojtyła A, Kruszewski M. Legal highs – legal aspects and legislative solutions. Ann Agric Environ Med. 2011; 18(2): 304-9.
Kołodziejczyk M. Prawo narkotykowe bardziej liberalne, Polityka, 4.01.2010 (access: 2012.01.10).
Newcombe R. The Use of Mephedrone (M-cat, Meow) in Middlesbrough. 2009. Lifeline Publications and Research, Manchester UK, (access: 2012.01.10).
McElrath K, O’Neill C. Experiences with mephedrone pre- and post-legislative controls: Perceptions of safety and sources of supply. Int J Drug Policy. 2011; 22(2): 120-7.
Wood DM, Hunter L, Measham F, Dargan PI. Limited use of novel psychoactive substances in South London nightclubs. QJM. 2012 Jun 19. [Epub ahead of print].
Dziennik Ustaw z 2005 r. Nr 179 poz. 1485 Ustawa z dnia 29 lipca 2005r. o przeciwdziałaniu narkomanii (Official Journal of 2005, No. 179, Clause 1485 of 29 July 2005 concerning Drug Addiction Control).
Dziennik Ustaw z 2009 r. Nr 63 poz. 520 Ustawa z dnia 20 marca 2009 r. o zmianie ustawy o przeciwdziałaniu narkomani (Official Journal of 2009, No. 63, Clause 520, in the matter of amendment to the Drug Control Act).
Dziennik Ustaw z 2010 r. Nr 143 poz. 962 Ustawa z dnia 10 czerwca 2010 r. o zmianie ustawy o przeciwdziałaniu narkomanii (Official Journal of 2010, No. 143, Clause 962, in the matter of amendment to the Drug Control Act).
Dziennik Ustaw z 2011 r. Nr 105 poz. 614 Ustawa z dnia 15 kwietnia 2011 r. o zmianie ustawy o przeciwdziałaniu narkomanii (Official Journal of 2011, No. 105, Clause 614, in the matter of amendment to the Drug Control Act).
Dziennik Ustaw z 2010 r. Nr 213 poz. 1396 Ustawa z dnia 8 października 2010 r. o zmianie ustawy o przeciwdziałaniu narkomanii oraz ustawy o Państwowej Inspekcji Sanitarnej (Official Journal of 2010, No. 213, Clause 1396, Act of 8 October 2010 in the matter of Drug Control Act in the matter of the State Sanitary Inspectorate).
Schmidt MM, Sharma A, Schifano F, Feinmann C. “Legal highs” on the net-Evaluation of UK-based Websites, products and product information. Forensic Sci Int. 2011; 206(1-3): 92-7.
Flash EB No 330 – Youth attitudes on drugs. Analytical report, July 2011,, (access: 2012.01.10).
Vardakou I, Pistos C, Spiliopoulou Ch. Drugs for youth via Internet and the example of mephedrone. Toxicol Lett. 2011; 201(3): 191-5.
Malczewski A. Youth and psychoactive substances. [in] The survey from 2010 on youth at school “Youth and psychoactive substances”. Research Report, id=107861 (access: 2012.01.10).
Winstock AR, Mitcheson LR, Deluca P, Davey Z, Corazza O, Schifano F. Mephedrone, new kid for the chop? Addiction. 2011; 106(1): 154-61.
European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), Report on the risk assessment of mephedrone in the framework of the Council Decision on new psychoactive substances, Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2011, ISBN 978-92-9168-457-1 doi: 10.2810/40800.
Hillebrand J, Olszewski D, Sedefov R. Legal highs on the Internet, Subst Use Misuse. 2010; 45(3): 330-40.
Kapka-Skrzypczak L, Cyranka M, Niedźwiecka J, Jędrych M, Wojtyła A. Dopalacze jako aktualne zagrożenie zdrowia i życia młodzieży – badania w populacji studentów. Dni medycyny społecznej i zdrowia publicznego: Wyrównywanie różnic w zdrowiu społeczeństw, Siedlce, 2011, ISBN 978-83-928162-1-8, Abstract book, p 31.
Flash EB Series No 233 – Young people and drugs. Analytical report, May 2008. (access: 2012.01.10).
Krajewski Ł. Dopalacze jak narkotyki. Nowe przepisy za miesiąc (Legal highs as narcotics. New regulations in a month), Polska, 2 February 2009., dopalacze-jak-narkotyki-nowe-przepisy-za-miesiac, id, t.html (access: 2012.01.10).
Hughes B, Winstock AR. Controlling new drugs under marketing regulations. Addiction. 2012 Jan 31. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2011.03620.x. [Epub ahead of print].
Kapka-Skrzypczak L, Cyranka M, Kulpa P, Skrzypczak M, Wojtyła S. Dopalacze – stan aktualny i wytyczne na przyszłość (Legal highs – current state and guidelines for the future). Med Og Nauk Zdr. 2011; 17(4): 206-211 (in Polish).
Journals System - logo
Scroll to top