Background: Evolutionary research on drug abuse has hitherto been restricted to proximate
studies, considering aetiology, mechanism, and ontogeny. However, in order to explain the recent
emergency of a new behavioral pattern (e.g. ‘the e-psychonaut style’) of novel psychoactive
substances’ (NPS) intake, a complementary evolutionary model may be needed.
Objective: A range of evolutionary interpretations on the ‘psychonaut style’ and the recent emergency
of NPS were here considered.
Method: The PubMed database was searched in order to elicit evolutionary theory-based documents
commenting on NPS/NPS users/e-psychonauts.
Results: The traditional ‘shamanic style’ use of entheogens/plant-derived compounds may present
with a range of similarities with the ‘e-psychonauts’ use of mostly of hallucinogen/psychedelic NPS.
These users consider themselves as ‘new/technological’ shamans.
Conclusion: Indeed, a range of evolutionary mechanisms, such as: optimal foraging, costly signaling,
and reproduction at the expense of health may all cooperate to explain the recent spread and diffusion
of the NPS market, and this may represent a reason of concern.