New Legal Highs survey shows extent of problem

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A new survey has gathered data on Legal Highs to improve the understanding of the use of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS).

Nearly 700 people took part in the survey, which was conducted by NHS Tayside on behalf of the Alcohol and Drug Partnerships (ADPs) in Angus, Dundee and Perth & Kinross.

Results from the survey will also now help to make improvements to the assistance and support offered to individuals and families affected by the use of NPS.

Arbroath premises Evape-o-lution on Brothock Bridge was raided by police earlier this year in a crackdown on so-called ‘head shops’ across the county as local parents’ fears over NPS grows greater.

The results of the survey show that the most common age for people trying NPS for the first time is between 16 to 19 years old. The reasons given for taking NPS included, experimentation, ease of access and use while socialising.

Of 94 respondents with direct experience of NPS, 26 per cent reported they always took it with another substance. The most common of these ‘other’ substances was alcohol, with cannabis and cocaine also featuring amongst the responses.

The survey also showed that 109 respondents had themselves, or were aware of others who had, accessed emergency medical help after taking NPS.

Public Health Consultant Lucy Denvir said: “The use of New Psychoactive Substances is a rapidly growing issue.

“We want to thank everyone who took part in our survey. We hope that by reporting experiences of NPS in the Tayside area and suggesting changes for the future, this work will provide a platform to consider and improve the way in which we provide help and support to those who take NPS or are affected by others who do.

“The term ‘legal high’ is misleading and implies a level of safety and legality that is not present with these substances. Buyers of NPS cannot be certain of the actual content of the products sold and the advice is clearly not to use these substances.”

If people are considering taking NPS they should be aware of the potential dangers and remember: They cannot be sure exactly what they are taking or the effect the substances might have on them; NPS are likely to be more harmful when mixed with other substances, including alcohol; there is little knowledge about the short and long-term harms such substances might cause.

If anyone has taken these substances and is unwell, they should seek medical advice immediately.