Introduction. We investigated legal recreational substances use in a cross sectional study on urban Italian adolescents and young adults, the reasons for consumption and risk perception as function of age, the relation with lifestyles and finally risk factors associated. Methods. The survey methodology involved the administration of an anonymous questionnaire. It consisted of 68 questions, divided into five sections: personal details, socioeconomic characteristics, family and peer group, free time and lifestyles, and substances use. Results. A total of 2621 adolescents and young adults (14-35 years old) from seven different Italian cities. The substances examined were mainly used recreationally (alcohol, energy drinks and smart-drugs) or to improve physical and sexual performance (physical performance-enhancing drugs, anabolic steroids and male sexual enhancement). The knowledge of the health related harm arising from the use of these products was very high for alcohol (>90%), high for smart-drugs (>70%), but significantly lower for anabolic steroids, drugs for sexual enhancement (~60%), physical performance-enhancing drugs or energy drinks (~55%). The principal risks factors for consumption were: the influence of friends (OR:8.8), attending recreational places (OR:5.4) aged between 25-35 years (OR:3.0), be male (OR:2.5) and having a bad relationship with the mother (OR:2.1). Conclusions. These results have implication for prevention and early intervention programs of new legal recreational substance use, which similarly to what is frequently advised for classical illicit drugs should focus on information campaigns and awareness initiatives especially addressed to young male adults who go clubbing, live outside the family and showed closed links with peers.