Here you’ll find a range of support services and information about legal highs. Whether you’re using them yourself or worried about a friend, child, sibling or anyone else who may be affected by legal highs, don’t keep it quiet – get some support. We’ll be updating this section regularly so please visit us again.
Psychoactive Substances (NPS) are substances designed to produce similar effects to drugs such as cocaine, cannabis and ecstasy, but the chemical structure is different
There have been deaths associated with legal highs in England, Wales and Scotland in 2012. But in 2013 that number rose to 173. A United Nations report published in 2013 showed 670,000 young people in the UK (aged 16-24) having taken a legal high: this makes the UK the highest consumers of legal highs in Europe.
These drugs are not safe or approved for people to use. Some drugs marketed as legal highs have actually been found to contain ingredients that are illegal to possess and therefore carry a legal penalty for those in possession.
Legal highs can carry serious health risks. The chemicals they contain have in most cases never been used in drugs for human consumption before, so haven’t been tested to show that they are safe.
Users can never be certain what they are taking and what the effects might be.
As with alcohol and other recreational drugs, users can suffer from reduced inhibitions, drowsiness, excited or paranoid states, coma, seizures and, in a few cases, death.
The chemical ingredients in a branded product can be changed without the user knowing, therefore the risks are unpredictable.. Even drugs that look similar or have similar names may be of varying strengths and have different effects.
Legal highs are usually sold on internet sites as plant food, bath salts or herbal remedies. They may be labelled not for human consumption. Legal highs used alongside alcohol pose even greater risks to health and should be avoided.
The ‘legal high’ industry moves fast and new drugs are emerging all the time.
These drugs are produced well outside of the standard rules and regulations – so there are massive variations in quality. Most medications are subjected to long studies and ‘safety testing’. This is not the case with ‘legal highs’, so nobody knows the short-term or long-term risks.
Changes to the law around substances formerly known as ‘legal highs’ have come into force across the UK today (Thursday 26 May).
The Psychoactive Substances Act provides a blanket ban on the production, supply and importation of these types of drugs giving officers and Trading Standards new powers to prevent harm.
Anyone caught breaking the new law could face up to seven years in prison.