An investigation by BBC Wales has found that many of the psychoactive substances (legal highs) available on our streets are more addictive than illicit drugs. It has also found that many of these substances are becoming stronger.
Synthetic versions of drugs such as heroin and cannabis can be bought legally online; some can even be bought on the high street. A few of these legal highs (such as benzofuran and mephedrone) have been banned, but the problem is that new substances become available as soon as another has been made illegal.
Higher Addictive Potential
Josie Smith from WEDINOS, the drug-testing agency in Wales, has told that many of the psychoactive substances tested in the past year are much stronger than before. She said, “They have addiction potential far higher than some of the controlled substances.”
Police in Wales have also seen more numbers of substances recorded as legal highs in the past two years. In 2012, eighteen substances were recorded as legal highs but, in 2014, that number jumped to 371.
In some areas, councillors have complained that these new psychoactive substances are the root cause of a much of the antisocial behaviour in their areas. Morriston councillor, Andrea Lewis, said, “We had young people behaving erratically, literally running out into the street into oncoming traffic.”
Mental Health Symptoms
Another cause for concern among those taking legal highs is the risk of developing mental health conditions such as paranoia, depression, and psychosis. A senior clinical director at the Aneurin Bevan Health Board, Julia Lewis, said, “We are seeing increasing numbers of people going into mental health units with acute psychotic episodes after having taken some of these legal substances.”
She also told of a number of very young people suffering heart attacks because of these substances.
Recognising Someone with a Legal High Addiction
Parents have always been worried about their children becoming mixed up with drugs and alcohol but legal highs mean a completely new set of concerns. While illegal drugs such as heroin and cocaine may be something that many teenagers would not even consider touching, a substance that is called a ‘legal’ high is a different situation altogether. Many teenagers wrongly assume that because a substance is ‘legal’, it is okay to take. They do not realise that while it may be legal for use as a bath salts, plant food, or incense, they are not legal (or particularly safe) for human consumption.
If you are worried about a loved one taking psychoactive substances, there are a number of things to look out for in terms of recognising an addiction. The symptoms of a legal high addiction will often be similar to those of other types of addiction and can include the following:
- becoming irritable when confronted about possible drug taking
- avoiding important commitments or responsibilities
- changing groups of friends or social habits
- becoming secretive or requesting more privacy
- suffering from mood swings and showing signs of paranoia.
Get Help Now
If you suspect that a loved one has been taking legal highs and he or she is showing any of the above signs, you may be right to suspect an addiction. If this is the case, you need to get help as soon as possible. The longer the addiction is left untreated, the worse it will become. Remember, addiction is an illness and there is help available.
At Addiction Helper, our expert team of counsellors, therapists and advisors are fully trained in all aspects of addiction. They have up-to-date information on the treatments available and can provide you and your loved one with the support and advice required to beat addiction. They will put you in touch with a suitable provider based on your individual circumstances, so call today for a free, comprehensive assessment.