What are they?
New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) is the name given to substances made from assorted herbal extracts and synthetic chemicals designed to mimic the effects of illicit drugs.
The common street name is Legal Highs.
Calling this group of drugs Legal Highs is confusing as it suggests these drugs are legal and safe. There is no way of knowing what is in them, they may contain dangerous new substances that haven’t been banned yet, illegal drugs or drugs sometimes used as medicines and contents may vary from batch to batch. You won’t know if the ingredients are safe for people to use or what effects they may have on your body.
As these drugs are constantly changing, with new chemicals coming on to the market regularly, the producers and sellers don’t know what they are selling all the time or what the risks are and neither do most health professionals.
What do they look like?
These drugs often come as white or off-white powders or different coloured tablets.
They are often sold in colourful packages which will often have small print on them stating phrases such as:
• Not for Human Consumption
• Bath Salts
• Plant Food
• Research Chemical.
These phrases are to get around the laws regarding the sale of the substances. This is so the manufacturers can claim that they do not expect people to consume the substance.
Some NPS are sold as herbal products or claim they are from material that is naturally occurring or grown. In reality this is not usually the case and the plant material is sprayed or soaked in a chemical substance giving it it’s psychoactive properties.
Effects and risks
There are 100s of different psychoactive substances available, they include drugs which act like sedatives(downers), stimulates (uppers) and hallucinogens (trips).
• Sedatives (downers) – this group also covers drugs known as synthetic cannabinoids and herbal mixtures that produce experiences similar to cannabis.Sedatives are drugs which make users feel happy, relaxed or sleepy. These drugs can reduce your inhibitions and concentration, slow your reactions, and make you forgetful. Users often have side effects like feeling ill or paranoid. Many of these are smoked therefore there are unknown risks from smoking the plant material. Regular use may increase the risk of later developing a psychotic illness such as schizophrenia for example.
• Stimulants (uppers) – these drugs act like cocaine, ecstasy or amphetamines which can give feelings of euphoria, being energised, chatty and loved up. These can also give feelings of paranoia, panic
and confusion and have physical effects such as tightened jaw muscles increased heart rate and body temperature which can lead to an increased risk of overheating or dehydration. Many users also found that the come-down can last for a few days leaving them feeling depressed and lethargic.
• Hallucinogens (trips) – are drugs that affect a person’s perception of sights, sounds, touch, smell etc. Some of the stronger hallucinogenic drugs can exert a powerful effect on a drug user’s thinking and selfawareness. These can make you feel detached from the world. Other side effects reported are feelings of confusion or panic, headaches, nausea and vomiting. Other short term side effects have been reported such as nose bleeds, sickness and diahorrea, bleeding tongues and black outs. Long term health risks are uncertain but it is clear that there are many risks to using these drugs.
These drugs are not tested for safety or approved for use by people, they are sold as products ‘Not for Human Consumption.' As they are not regulated there is no way of knowing whet the ingredients are and hot they affect you or even the strength of the drug you have purchased.
Are they addictive?
As these drugs are new to the market and their chemical make up is continually changing there is only a small amount of research to show how they affect the human body. It has been found that regular use of NPS especially those with stimulant or sedative effective may lead to strong compulsions to re-dose and lead to psychological dependency. It has been found there is a risk of withdrawal symptoms when use is stopped.
You and the law
Just the fact that a substance is sold as a ‘legal high’ does not mean that it is safe or legal. The actual ingredients and strength used to make the substance can vary greatly each and every time. You can never be sure what is in the ‘legal high’ you have got and what effects it will have on you or your friends. As it is impossible to determine if these drugs are ‘legal highs’ or illegal drugs the Police will confiscate anything they find and could arrest and hold you until tests are undertaken.
• “Legal High” many not be legal or a high, it could be a depressant or hallucinogen
• Legal doesn’t mean safe
• The producers and sellers don’t know what they are selling all the time or what the risks are and neither do most health professionals
• Even if a website looks professional and the product is in nice packaging you still can’t be certain what you have bought and how it will affect you.
Reducing your risk
Things to remember if you any going to try them anyway:
• Ensure you do your research, not everythingyou read on the web is true!
• Think - do you want to be a guinea pig for an unknown substance?
• Start with very small quantities, you won’t know the strength of the drug and how it will affect you
• Don’t over-do it, give yourself a chance to recover before redosing
• Mixing a range of drugs along with alcohol increases your risk of harm
• Being in poor physical or mental health, taking prescriptions or over the counter medication can increase your risk of harm
• Be careful – some people become aggressive, unpredictable or willing to take big risks. You can end up getting into a fight, arrested, injured or sexually assaulted
• Always have a friend with you who knows what you are taking and knows how to get help if things go wrong.
Getting advice and help
If you looking for more information, some personal advice or want to talk to someone about drugs ring the East Riding Partnership on (01482) 344690 for an appointment.
You can talk to your GP about your drug problems.
If you are in trouble with the law over drugs you can ring the East Riding Drug Intervention Team on (01405) 608210.