Angelus’ Success in Campaigning to Tackle Open Sale of ‘Legal Highs’

legal highs

We all want our children to stay safe and well so that they live to fulfill their life potential and lead happy lives. These days young people face many challenges during their teenage years and the party substances known as ‘legal highs’ are high on the list of pitfalls as many believe they are safe because they have been legal.

Following an intense six year campaign, the team at the Angelus Foundation welcomes the Government plans to legislate against the sale of new psychoactive substances, which most young people call ‘legal highs’. Angelus has led the call for a strong legal response to the easy availability of these legal substances and has long campaigned for fundamental measures to disrupt the supply of these legal drugs.

The Psychoactive Substances Bill, announced in the Queen’s Speech last week, should effectively shut down the high street trade in ‘legal highs’. Angelus surveys have shown a deeply concerning level of experimentation with ‘legal highs’ with as many as 13.6% of 14-18 year old school students and 19% of University Freshers had tried one.

However, as well as legislative changes, there is a vital need to increase public awareness of these harmful substances. There must be a greater commitment from central and local Government, schools and universities, to giving the education which young people need to stay safe from these substances.

The legal change cannot be expected to extinguish the market entirely; it is not a perfect solution. Some internet trade will remain so it is vital the legal changes are combined with a sustained public awareness campaign. Last week, five students at Lancaster University were hospitalised after collapsing from the effects of synthetic cannabis. Our surveys show young people are still unwittingly taking huge risks by experimenting with legal drugs, often believing they are safe because they are legal. Angelus is determined to build up young people’s knowledge and resilience to prevent further tragedies from taking these harmful products. Our website is a dedicated website where young people can find comprehensive non-judgemental information. Our schools’ surveys show that over 94% of pupils aged 14 – 18 change their outlook on ‘legal highs’ when they watch the short film ‘Not What it Says on the Tin’.

Most parents are in the dark too as little information is readily available to build their knowledge base. They often have little idea that several new substances are trickling onto the market each week and their children may be at risk of being harmed. In addition to the free handbook that can be downloaded from the Angelus website and the film for parents ‘Not What It Says on the Tin, Angelus is soon launching a community with a series of films, including celebrities and experts, to allow parents to access the information they need to keep their children safe.

You can register to join the community prior to the launch and we will let you know when we are ready to get you started on the journey. Please email us at

Please also read the Sunday Times article from 31 May 2015.

Angelus Mudrun – Fundraising Event – 22 March

Fundraising for The Angelus Foundation
Douglas Fairchild (Intern) is fundraising by taking the trenches challenge and running 5k through the mud and over obstacles Sunday 22 March 2015.

Douglas is fundraising for The Angelus Foundation a charity which works to safeguard children and young adults by raising awareness of the dangers of ‘Legal Highs’. These are chemicals which have resulted in the death and long term illness of many children and young adults in the UK and throughout Europe.

Many use the substances with the misconception that because they are legal they must be safe; unfortunately this is not the case. The reason ‘Legal Highs’ are legal is due to manufacturers slight alteration of chemical compound of existing illegal substances and creating new substances which do not fall under the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act.

The Angelus Foundation lobbies to change UK legislation in order to ban Legal Highs across the whole of the country. To find out more about the charity’s work visit the websites bellow:

He is fundraising through Just Giving and any sponsorship will be appreciated. Please follow the link to the fundraising page and find out more:

Dr Nicola Newton

Dr Nicola Newton is a clinical psychologist, formerly at Kings College now a Senior Research Fellow at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC). She specialises in drug prevention. Here, Nicola tells Angelus Founder, Maryon Stewart, about drug education, research and intervention.

Government Advisers Report on Laughing Gas (N2O) – 5 March

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs’ (ACMD) Technical Committee has considered the emerging issue of nitrous oxide abuse after the British Compressed Gases Association (BCGA) raised its concerns on this abuse to the ACMD.

Whilst the harmfulness of nitrous oxide does not seem to warrant control under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, the ACMD has been compelled to offer this public health safety advice as a part of its remit.

Home Office Drugs Misuse data for 2013-2014 indicated that 7.6% of 16-24 year olds in England and Wales reported nitrous oxide use in the past year, making it the second most popular recreational drug after cannabis.

There has been a recent upsurge in the recreational use of nitrous oxide and it is now commonly available in certain clubs and increasingly at music festivals, where it is often purchased in the form of gas-filled balloons.  A number of festivals have a “no legal highs” policy, though there appears to be a tolerance to the sale and availability to nitrous oxide.

When inhaled, the gas induces a brief period of euphoria, which may be accompanied by “tears of joy.” This appears to be due to a brief activation of opiate systems in the brain.  Users often wish to repeat their positive experiences with the gas, although there is no firm evidence of physical dependence. Nitrous oxide is an asphyxiant at high concentrations. At lower concentrations, exposure may cause central nervous system, cardiovascular, hepatic, hematopoietic, and reproductive effects in humans.

It appears to have few, if any, short term adverse effects, other than mild headaches for some individuals. Long term abuse can cause peripheral sensory neuropathies. Long term abuse can also cause vitamin deficiency and related anaemia as a result of the inactivation of Vitamin B12 in the body by the gas.

Deaths linked to nitrous oxide are rare (~15 deaths per year in USA; 1 in the UK in 2011 and 5 in the UK in 2010). These have been due to asphyxiation resulting from hypoxia (lack of oxygen). A number of the deaths involved the use of nitrous oxide in an enclosed space.


For full report click here.

Hester’s Story

Hester Stewart, was an outstanding 21 year old medical student, student mentor and cheerleader was the then legal high GBL after an awards dinner in April 2009. Combined with the small amount of alcohol she had consumed during the evening, it sent her into a coma from which she never awoke .

Synthetic Cannabis

Educational film showing the harms from synthetic cannabis. The film was made in conjunction with KCA Young Persons’ Services and is presented by stand –up comic Jeff Leach – it portrays two young men, Jack and Will, who have had suffered physical and mental health harms from these substances.

Synthetic cannabis has been linked to many serious incidents when young people have collapsed from their overpowering effects. There have been several occasions where teenagers have smoked in school breaks and have been hospitalised.

Drugscope Street Trends Report – Impact of Legal Highs – 15 January

The latest DrugScope Street Drug Trend Survey (click here for the full article) reveals a worrying picture of vulnerable groups in society using an increasingly diverse range of illegal and legal drugs, while higher street drug purities are fuelling concerns about a rise in drug-related deaths.

DrugScope conducted this snapshot of the UK drug scene during December 2014, interviewing frontline drug workers, service user representatives, police and other drug professionals in seventeen towns and cities across the UK. Read More >>>