Staying Safe

Not making assumptions

Worryingly, the fact that a substance is sold as a ‘legal high’ - NPS does not automatically mean that it is safe.  With very little research into the contents or short, medium and long term effects and their suitability for human consumption, which begs the question is it really worth taking the risk and in effect becoming a ‘human guinea pig’.

  • As when taking any drugs mixing drugs with alcohol and other substances can have known and unknown side effects which can cause serious damage to body and mind and result in coma, organ damage and death. 
  • There are no known safe recommended doses that can be taken but we suggest not using alone when taking these substances, nor taking responsibility for anyone else, drinking sensible amounts of water and avoiding use in a club or any other location where it is possible to overheat. 
  • Some 'legal high' - NPS stimulants have been known to give such a powerful rush and be such a strong drug that those new to this type of substance can feel completely overwhelmed and distressed by its powerful effects.  Medical assistance should always be sought if feeling unwell, anxious or concerned about what has been taken.
  • When high the risk of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy is increased, always use a condom.
  • Throughout England there continues to be a rise in those being treated in hospital after using ‘legal highs’ as manufacturers synthesise their products from ever more obscure chemical groups.  The actual chemical ingredients in a branded product can be changed without the user knowing, making the risks even more unpredictable and whilst the packet might say it contains a certain chemical compound there can be no certainty that it does not contain other research chemicals.
  • ‘Legal highs’ - NPS can differ in the amount of time they take before they have their desired effect.  Some substances take up to an hour during which time users consider taking more because they think there has been no effect, potentially placing themselves even more at risk; some are much longer lasting perhaps for as long as twelve hours which users are unprepared for.
  • Some Online forums for ‘legal highs’ - NPS share user experience of these drugs, their effects can vary greatly from one person to another.  Some might claim to have had exceptional, incredible experiences, however these are not necessarily typical or common reactions; in some cases the manufacturer of the product could possibly have changed the ingredients (or purity) since their last use thereby changing the whole experience.
  • Parents and Carers play an incredibly important role in encouraging their children to realise their best potential.  Young people’s drug use is a distinct problem. The majority of young people do not use drugs and most of those that do, are not dependent. But drug or alcohol misuse can have a major impact on a young persons education, their health, their family and their long-term chances in life. Encouragingly, the rates of drug use have fallen amongst young people by around a third in the last decade. 
  • By talking to your children about what is going on in their life you can support them to make safe choices and promote finding natural highs eg sport, swimming, cycling, art, dance etc.  As a parent we suggest being aware of what local services are there to support you and your family.  See our HELP page for further links for parents.
  • Schools can assist with keeping their students safe by ensuring that they have an up to date and regularly reviewed drugs policy which should include the new ‘legal highs’ - NPS and Solvent Abuse - VSA.  The drugs policy should be supported with knowledge of local drugs services offering support, signposting, counselling and prevention through education.  Some of these services can be found on our HELP page.  Current guidance in schools gives teachers and staff the right to search, confiscate and dispose of any ‘legal high’ in line with the schools drugs policy.

Encouraging age appropriate debate and discussion with pupils helps provide key skills in promoting healthy lifestyle choices. No-one can be an expert on 'legal highs' - NPS because there are more coming onto the market every month but research shows that effective drug education is more about developing pupils skills and values, with teachers ensuring pupils have access to the best advice, information and support at the earliest possible stage.  See our HELP page for Department of Education funded information for schools.

Fact or fiction?

Legal - Some actually contain illegal substances, there’s no way of being sure

Safe  - Most chemicals in ‘legal highs’ have never been used in drugs for human consumption before
so haven’t been tested to show they’re safe

All young people take them - In fact more young people don’t take drugs
 

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