Legal highs

This quick guide to legal highs describes drugs that are not illegal substances but are still 'street' drugs not prescribed by a medical professional. We have a guide to prescription drug addiction if this is what you are looking for.  

Legal highs

Legal highs are a relatively new and rapidly growing phenomenon. It is easy to think that if something is called ‘legal’ then in some way it is sanctioned or safe. In fact many of these drugs are only legal as they are little known or tested and not fit for human consumption. These drugs are so unknown they can be anything, cut with anything – you really do not know what you are getting until you take it. This makes them very risky. There have been well publicised deaths from legal highs reported in the media.

According to the The Telegraph, experts monitoring the appearance of legal highs in the UK claim a new generation of drugs that circumvent the country's laws has been created in China by unscrupulous chemists and then exported to the UK.

Figures presented to the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs reveal that 40 new synthetic drugs appeared on sale in the UK during 2010. In the previous year there were 24 new drugs identified, and in 2008 there were just 13. Drug treatment experts say that young people taking the drugs are playing ‘Russian roulette’ with their lives.

This comes after a row last year over the ban on one designer drug called mephedrone, or meow meow (pictured), when a leading Government drugs advisor warned that the ban would cause users to turn to other more dangerous synthetic alternatives.

Many of the new compounds are based on illegal drugs which have been tweaked so as not to be covered by the list of banned substances. They can produce similar effects to stimulants, but there are so many of these new drugs that research is still being done to find exactly what they are and the effects of each.

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