It’s a common myth amongst our teens and young people that taking Legal Drugs are Safe Drugs, this is not the case.  Because they cannot be sold legally for consumption they are commonly sold as Bath Salts or Plant Food to get around issues of legality.  Less commonly known is the fact that some “legal highs” have been found to contain illegal substances.

Its reported that 6,486 “club drug” users have accessed some form of treatment in the past 12 months — that’s a 70% increase in the last 5yrs http://bit.ly/Tb8O30 .  We’re hearing how drug use amongst young people is on the wane.  Official NTA stats report a decline in Problematic Drug Users (PDU’s) however it is well known amongst the addiction services that they are monitoring heroin, cocaine and cannabis use rather than these newer substances that have burst onto the scene in the past couple of years:

GBL (gammabutyrolactone) produces a feeling of euphoria in the individual, inhibitions can be reduced and drowsiness can occur; it can also kill and like GHB (gammahydroxybutrate) is particularly dangerous when used with alcohol and other depressant or sedative substances.  Possession is only an offence if it is believed it will be ingested.

Mephedrone commonly known as “Meow Meow” or “M-Cat” has been linked to an increase in deaths and can be particularly dangerous when mixed with other substances.  At Western Counselling we have seen an increase in referrals for people addicted, and given there is so little known about the long term effects, withdrawal can be tough.  It’s a stimulant very similar to amphetamine, methamphetamine and ecstasy, with side effects of paranoia, anxiety and fitting.  Although not legal, it is commonly considered to be “safe” – possession could result in 5yrs prison sentence.

Maybe its time we started reporting the use of these substances, currently not a requirement of NDTMS (National Drug Treatment Monitoring System) in order to learn more about its affects and implications for addictions, and therefore get a more accurate picture of drug use amongst our young people?

The National Treatment Agency (NTA) don’t believe that drug use amongst young people needs a comprehensive treatment system in itself, however a number of people are trying to generate interest in building teen rehabs as a national resource including Pathfinder Project and Sarah Graham.

For more information on substances, effects and legality www.talktofrank.com

For more information regarding young people and treatment options http://www.nta.nhs.uk/young-people.aspx

Legal Highs – definition:   substances which produce similar effects to illegal drugs (such as cocaine, cannabis and ecstasy) and are not controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act.