In recent years, a significant new global market has developed; the sale and consumption of new psychoactive substances which have become known as ‘Legal Highs’.
Numerous substances of varying synthetic compounds are widely sold over the internet, in High Street headshops. Little is known about the chemical make-up of these synthetic substances, (even when labelled, their contents vary and are often a mixture of untested chemicals), nor about the impact on the individuals who consume these products.
However there is growing concern about harmful side effects (including paranoia, panic attacks, depression, overdose and addiction), which has lead to recent changes in legislation to make some of these substances illegal. In 2014 alone it was estimated that there were 101 new substances identified across Europe. Last year another 100 were discovered. The official figures show there were 129 deaths from legal highs in England, Wales and Scotland in 2015.
It’s deeply worrying for parents as children exposed to these drugs are anything but safe when they go out for the evening and there is considerable peer pressure for them to experiment with a variety of substances which they are under the misconception will give them a safe ‘high’.
Parents urgently need to have an open and honest conversation with their children, but it’s often difficult knowing where to start as there is a severe lack of knowledge and significant misinformation. Please refer to our section ‘Parents Advice’ and download our free booklet for parents to help keep young people safe.