Legal highs – Live Well Centre

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Legal highs

New psychoactive substances, or ‘legal highs’, contain chemicals which produce similar effects to drugs like cocaine, cannabis, and ecstasy. The drugs can be known by a variety of names, including spice, mephedrone, m-cat, and meow meow, as well as other names.

They come as powders, pills, or capsules to be snorted or swallowed, or smoking mixtures to be smoked in a joint or spliff, or by using a pipe.

‘Legal highs’ first started to become popular in the UK in around 2008, with synthetic stimulants like benzylpiperazine (BZP) and mephedrone, and synthetic cannabinoids like spice. As the use of ‘legal highs’ became more popular, the number of deaths began to rise. Between 2011 and 2013, they more than tripled. In 2016, the government banned ‘legal highs’.

Keeping safe

With illegal drugs, the best way of keeping safe is to stop using them altogether. But we know that right now this could feel like an unachievable goal.

Any change is a good change, so why not start small and cut down gradually? For example, if you’re using every weekend, start by having one drug-free weekend every month. Then try limiting yourself to one weekend every month where you use, and then eventually stopping completely.

Remember, when it comes to drugs bought on the street, there is no ‘safe’ amount to take.

If you’re out, look out for your friends, and talk to them about what you’ll do if something goes wrong. If someone wants to go home, be a good mate and support them, don’t encourage them to stay out, and help them get home.

Watch out for overdoses. If someone is sweaty and hot to the touch, panicking, and complaining of chest pains, call 999. Make sure there’s nothing around which can hurt them, stay with them until help arrives, and tell the paramedics what they’ve taken. You will not get in trouble – the most important thing is that the paramedics know what’s wrong.

Supporting someone else

If you’re worried about a loved one or friend, check out the information in the supporting someone else section.

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