Drug-related research, covering a wide range of topics (including prevalence and patterns of substance use and related risk behaviours, prevention and other interventions, NPS, law enforcement and policy evaluation) is explored in Italy by an informal, but very active network. Various research groups, coordinated by the Italian DPA, collaborated in drafting a report to the Italian parliament in 2016. Public organisations, such as the National Research Council, the National Statistical Office and the National Health Institute, as well as several ministries and partners from the private sector, carried out field studies for that report. This collaboration is expected to continue and to expand to the analysis of qualitative and quantitative data collected from data providers and through new surveys.
Research priorities in Italy include (i) improvement of the strategies for diagnosis/early detection in order to reduce the gap between first drug use and first access to treatment or to educational initiatives; (ii) prioritising and promoting neuroscience and neuroimaging research to study brain damage that is related to drug use and the mechanisms of craving and self-control of behaviour (resisting); and (iii) promoting research into new pharmacological treatments and vaccines and, at the same time, into residential and mental rehabilitation treatments. Owing to the scarcity of scientific information about the characteristics of NPS, the new strategic plan (specific for NPS) promotes diagnostic, clinical, toxicological and neuroscience research on the psychobehavioural effects and the structural alterations that are linked to the use of NPS. The plan also promotes research about new online marketing methods (illegal markets) and prevention.
Owing to the scarcity of scientific information about NPS, a new strategic plan promotes diagnostic, clinical, toxicological and neuroscience research on the use of NPS