Addaction is a member of the Young People’s Health Partnership. As part of our work through the partnership we have identified a need to improve the ability of health and social care services to understand and respond to young people’s use of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS). We decided that the best way to improve this understanding was to seek young people’s views on the help that they need and the way that it should be provided.
In autumn 2016 we conducted a research study to gather these views and develop learning points for service providers. More than 1,600 young people gave us their views and opinions during the project.
- Young people are continuing to use NPS, despite the change in classification, and many of them use a range of other illegal substances.
- Nitrous Oxide and synthetic cannabinoids were the most commonly reported NPS being used, but some young people said they use ecstasy imitations.
- 66% of the young people who completed the online survey had used NPS at some point in their life.
- Many young people reported that they took NPS to ‘have fun’ and said they enjoyed the effects of NPS.
- A number of young people said they used NPS as a method of coping with a difficult situation. These young people often used in isolation and this was less visible to their support networks
- Young people reported that there were significant adverse effects of NPS both in terms of physical health and emotional wellbeing, with ‘delusions, hallucinations, panic or anxiety’ reported as he most common effects that had been experienced.
- Bad experiences of NPS use often led the young person to stop their NPS use, but they did not seek help with stopping and instead went ‘cold turkey’. They said this was because they didn’t know about the support available or worried that they would be stigmatised for their NPS use.
- Young people who had stopped their NPS use reported that withdrawal symptoms could continue for a significant period of time.
- A substantial number of individuals stated that the reason that they started was not why they continued and described feeling ‘addicted’.