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Current Neuropharmacology



ISSN (Print): 1570-159X
ISSN (Online): 1875-6190

Review Article

Evolutionary Considerations on the Emerging Subculture of the E-psychonauts and the Novel Psychoactive Substances: A Comeback to the Shamanism?

Author(s): Laura Orsolini*, Paul St John-Smith, Daniel McQueen, Duccio Papanti, John Corkery and Fabrizio Schifano

Volume 15 , Issue 5 , 2017

Page: [731 - 737] Pages: 7

DOI: 10.2174/1570159X15666161111114838

Price: $65


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.

Keywords: Evolutionary models, novel psychoactive substances, NPS, entheogens, psychonauts, shamanism, evolution, psychiatry.

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