We’ve heard some very worrying accounts of the long-term impact of legal highs affecting young people on the Island. This in from the IW NHS, in their own words. Ed
People on the Isle of Wight are being reminded of the potential risks to their lives from using ‘legal high’ drugs and the message during this party season is: keep yourself safe and avoid ‘legal highs’.
Mo Smith, Lead Nurse Mental Health & Learning Disabilities, said, “Just the fact that a substance is sold as legal to possess, doesn’t mean that it’s safe – you can’t really be sure what’s in a ‘legal high’ that you’ve bought, or been given, or what effect it’s likely to have on you.”
Not always been tested for human consumption
She goes on to say, “The problem is that many of these substances contain all sorts of chemicals which have not always been tested for human consumption. There are no long term studies on these drugs so no-one really knows what the long term health risks are. The substances may contain a dangerous combination of toxic chemicals which produce side effects such as psychosis, depression, panic attacks, heart problems, seizures, coma, loss of use of the bladder and even death.”
“We have continued to see people admitted to A&E and the Mental Health Unit this year after taking these substances and the reported number of deaths linked to the use of ‘legal highs’ in the UK has risen.”
Legal does not mean safe
There are two main types of legal high, which can be chemical or herbal. The effects of taking them are unpredictable for each person. Some people wrongly assume these substances are harmless: Legal does not mean safe.
Government advice warns that people will increase their risk of death if they combine other substances, drugs or alcohol with any substance that causes a ‘high’. Often people have no idea what they’re actually taking because the substance is not labelled and there is no historical data available through research because ‘legal highs’ are relatively new.
Our clear warning is for people not to experiment by accepting offers of ‘legal high’ drugs at parties or on the internet. Ask yourself whether you seriously know what ingredients make up the substance you’re thinking of taking? Your decision to experiment could have terrible consequences for your health, life and family.
Look out for erratic behaviour
Police urge people not to hesitate in questioning or challenging family or friends if you think their behaviour seems out-of-character or erratic.
Police officers have considerable experience in dealing with people who abuse all types of substances. Some of the side effects of these so called legal highs can be extremely severe. Long term drug addicts have told us that they have become psychotic, aggressive and hyperactive after abusing these ‘legal’ substances.
Working with the police
Police continue to work within the Isle of Wight Community Safety Partnership to educate people that legal does not always mean safe. School and youth service programmes, which support informed and responsible advice from families, can help to protect young people who are exposed to these dangerous substances.
Anyone who thinks they could be affected by the issues surrounding ‘legal high’ drugs is encouraged to seek professional advice and help.