A conference of legal high practitioners heard how agencies are responding positively to their increasing use. The conference held jointly between legal highs awareness charity, Angelus, and Northamptonshire based charity, Solve It, will also addressed by the Drugs Minister, Rt.Hon Mike Penning MP, by pre-recorded message.
With a sudden increase in the use of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) or legal highs, some UK agencies have struggled to mount a coherent response to them. The Government, this month, published the Psychoactive Substances Bill, which is expected to impact on the hundreds of High Street headshops selling NPS/Legal highs. But there is a general recognition that all stakeholders need to make every effort to improve the delivery of prevention, education and treatment.
Collaborative responses and partnership working have proven to be effective in challenging the issues around NPS, but public funds are also needed to sustain the struggle. There is increased reporting of regular use of NPS/legal highs leading to dependence and bringing unique mental and physical health issues for practitioners to deal with. There have been many reports of addiction, bullying and violence in British prisons being caused by widespread NPS use.
The CEO of Angelus, Jan King, said, “The discussions around legal highs at the moment are bound to focus on the Psychoactive Substances Bill and the forthcoming legal changes on supply. But new laws alone were never going to be enough. This conference shows how we need a broad and urgent response to these legal drugs starting with a greater commitment to raising awareness of the risks. The dangers to young people are as great as ever.”
Kevin Shapland, Chair of Trustees for Solve It said, “Our first conference last year showed we have practitioner organisations such as health, trading standards, police and prisons uncertain how to respond to the phenomenon of ‘legal highs’. At least now, we can see how some organisations have begun to fight back against the sense of helplessness. The future of the legal highs market is still very uncertain. This national conference will allow agencies to share intelligence about how certain approaches have made a big difference.”