Updated e-learning course on New Psychoactive Substances available 
for free to people in Scotland

Scottish Drugs Forum is pleased to announce an update to a free e-learning resource dedicated to raising knowledge and awareness of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) – otherwise known as ‘legal highs’.

The course, ‘New Drugs, New Trends? – A workers toolkit for NPS’ has been designed to meet the needs of people who may come into contact with people who use NPS.

The organisation is continuing to invest in developing a centre for excellence for training on drug-related topics, with over 40 innovative courses available from our skilled trainers.

Although there is little substitute for an experienced trainer, SDF recognises that e-learning is an effective tool that can be utilised for individuals who may experience constraints on available time and budget.

The course – available to everyone in Scotland for free – can be completed in under a half a day in one sitting, or alternatively be completed in separate sittings to provide a fully flexible learning experience.

By the end of the course, participants will be able to:

  • Name the seven categories of substances which apply to NPS
  • Recall the legislation affecting NPS
  • Recall current and emerging trends with regards to NPS in Scotland
  • Give an overview of two key substances in use
  • Identify techniques to support people who use NPS
  • Describe typical patterns of use, including poly-substance use.

The course has been updated to reflect legislative changes, including the introduction of the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016, and also to include the findings of the Scottish Government commissioned research on the harms of NPS among vulnerable groups in Scotland. As a result, it is recommended that all people who work in drug services update their knowledge with the e-learning course.

Although the primary audience for the course can be identified as people who work in drug services, various other audiences will benefit from the e-learning, including; GPs, nurses, teachers, police, housing workers, social workers and mental health workers.

Katy MacLeod, National Training and Development Officer, who helped develop the content of the course, said: “In SDF’s research on NPS use in Scotland, staff in frontline services told us the challenges they face in keeping up to date with new substances; in particular understanding the possible harms that clients may experience and identifying ways to reduce those harms.

“Whilst information about NPS has been available in face-to-face training for some years, this is a significant step in increasing access to this kind of information and allows individuals to have at least a base-level of information about a range of NPS.

“Our aim is to have informed and confident staff in services, who feel adequately prepared and supported when they engage with people at risk of drug related harms.”

David Liddell, Scottish Drugs Forum’s CEO, said: “The development of e-learning is just one example of a range of ongoing initiatives which SDF is using to improve the practice of frontline workers in their engagement and support of people who use drugs.

“This is significant in terms of access for people who cannot be released for face-to- face training for one reason or another, but need to understand NPS.”

The e-learning course can be accessed via the SDF training website.

Scottish Drugs Forum thanks Forth Valley Alcohol and Drug Partnership for their assistance in testing and providing feedback on the module.