Method: We review the known scientific literature on recently introduced synthetic drug types, synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic cathinones, and the hallucinogen Salvia divinorum.
Results: These substances comprise part of a rapidly evolving and controversial drug market that has challenged definitions of what is legal and illegal, has benefitted from open commercial sales without regulatory oversight, and is noteworthy for the pace at which new substances are introduced.
Conclusions: This emerging trend in substance use presents significant and unique public health and criminal justice challenges. At this time, these substances are not detected in routine drug screens and substance-specific treatment for cases of use-related toxicity are not available. Clinicians are encouraged to learn characteristic signs associated with misuse of novel drugs to recognize cases in their practice, and are recommended to use a symptom-specific approach for treatment in each case.