Research Topic

Advances in Analytical Methods for Drugs of Abuse Testing

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Substance abuse negatively impacts all facets of society. Drug testing programs have been developed in many jurisdictions to service law enforcement agencies for drug intelligence, criminal justice systems for prosecution of drug-related crimes, and the health industry for harm minimization. In addition to ...

Substance abuse negatively impacts all facets of society. Drug testing programs have been developed in many jurisdictions to service law enforcement agencies for drug intelligence, criminal justice systems for prosecution of drug-related crimes, and the health industry for harm minimization. In addition to the traditional and common drugs of abuse such as cannabis, opiates, cocaine, and amphetamine-type substances, our world is facing a new wave of dangerous “synthetic drugs”: the new psychoactive substances (NPS). Up until December 2017, more than 800 substances have been reported in the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Early Warning Advisory (EWA) on NPS by governments, laboratories, and partner organizations. Testing for these NPS represents a significant challenge for drug testing laboratories world-wide due to the emergence of more and more unknown substances with diversified chemical structures, the lack of commercial reference materials for identity confirmation, and the limited understanding of their biotransformation pathways in the body.

This Research Topic aims to highlight recent advancements in testing drugs of abuse within biological matrices as well as in seized materials by using chemical, biochemical, spectroscopic, and spectrometric techniques, and promoting the development of innovative approaches to addressing analytical challenges. We welcome submissions of both original research and review/perspective articles that contribute, but are not limited, to the development of new methodologies surrounding the following topics:

 1) Screening/identification of drugs of abuse in seized materials
 2) Screening/identification of drugs of abuse and their metabolites within biological matrices
 3) Identification of unique metabolites of drugs of abuse--especially NPS--during biotransformation processes in the body for drug testing purposes

Please note that this collection focuses on innovative approaches and analytical advancement in drugs of abuse testing and monitoring. Routine and general methods for screening and identification of drugs of abuse will not be collected. Review should also focus on methodology development and innovation, but not the general application. Similarly, studies focusing solely on metabolic profiling or toxicological analysis using established methodologies will not be considered for this collection.


Keywords: drug testing, drugs of abuse, new psychoactive substances, forensic toxicology, forensic chemistry


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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