Legal Highs Take New, Deadly Turn in UK

The news about legal highs is not getting any better. Not only are hospitalisations and deaths rising as a result of the new substances, but also those charged with enforcement are finding it difficult to keep up with an ever-expanding market. Now it seems they have more to deal with thanks to takeaway shops that appear to be selling the drugs along with food purchases.

In one particular case, officials are aware of a takeaway in Newcastle that might possibly be selling legal highs as pizza toppings. The Daily Star reported on one female customer who ingested an unknown substance and nearly died. The 21-year-old woman became severely ill within seconds of eating laced food; hours later, she was left fighting for her life.

As we’ve said before, there are three main problems with these substances that young people do not seem to understand:

  • Unknown Ingredients – Legal highs are new, synthetic drugs manufactured to mimic illicit drugs without being chemically identical.  This strategy allows manufacturers to get around current drug laws, which ban the production of things such as heroin and cocaine. The problem is that users have no idea what it is they are taking. 
  • Medical Ignorance – Because these drugs have not been studied at any great length, the medical community is still largely ignorant of them. A young person could arrive at a local casualty department after an overdose, only to be met by a doctor who has no idea how to treat the individual. 
  • Expanding Market – Lastly, drug manufacturers are taking full advantage of the legal loophole they are offered. There are hundreds of these products on the market, with dozens of new ones being introduced every few months. The rapidly expanding market makes it impossible for consumers or medical professionals to keep up. That means users are trusting drug manufacturers to provide safe substances. 

In Newcastle, the thought of a takeaway selling legal high substances as food products has people understandably concerned. Police officials are aware of the alleged activity by way of rumours but have not been able to gather the required evidence to do something about it. In the meantime, they are warning that they will take swift action if they receive verifiable information of any such activity.

Parents Be Warned

The Daily Star says the prevalence of legal highs is greatest in the North East. However, officials expect that trend to spread across England, Wales, and Scotland if decisive action is not taken. In the meantime, parents need to seize the upper hand by paying attention to what their kids are doing.

Legal highs are sold in head shops and other places by being packaged as plant food, bath salts, or incense. Manufacturers even put warnings on the packaging specifically stating the products are not intended for human consumption. However, those who buy the products know full well what their intended use is.

If parents find materials packaged as plant foods or bath salts in the child’s possession, they should take immediate action. Parents also need to know where kids are going, whom they are spending time with, and what they are doing. The only way to prevent the problem from getting worse is for parents to take an active role in the lives of their children.

If you or someone you love is currently struggling with any sort of drug or alcohol problem, you are welcome to call the 24-hour Addiction Helper recovery helpline. Our services are available 24 hours a day, every day of the year. They are also free of charge and confidential.

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