The availability of New Psychoactive substances (NPS) or so called “legal highs”, has posed a new and significant challenge over the past few years. Laws differ between Jersey and the UK and Ministerial Government and agency departments in Jersey are determined to clamp down on the trade of these substances and continue to invest in educating young people and parents on the wide ranges of harms and devastating effects these drugs can have.
A number of these substances have caused paranoia, psychosis, seizures and been linked to deaths. Many have been untested, so all the risks of taking them either along with or in combination with other substances are not yet known. We do know that many of these substances can cause a very similar range of problems to the drugs which they mimic, including a risk of dependence developing with repeated use. Some appear to be more dangerous even than the traditional drugs they mimic. In addition, all these risks are likely to be exacerbated by their use with other substances and alcohol.
Source: UK Drugs Advisory Council: March 2015
Children and young people growing up in the 21st Century are exposed to risk. Risk and risk-taking are a natural part of the transition into adulthood. Risky behaviours which are potentially harmful behaviours that include taking so called “legal highs” present a danger because:
- They are easily accessible.
- They are constantly being adapted to avoid legislative control.
- They may not necessarily hold the same perceived threat to health and well-being as illegal drugs.
- Some young people are unaware that just because they are advertised as legal, doesn’t mean that they are legal, or that they are safe.
- The short and long-term dangers of taking them are yet not fully known.
These so called “legal highs” are generally manufactured in China and, to a far lesser extent, India. The bulk importation into the British Isles is often done via mail and fast parcel services, and then distributed to users through friends, and dealers.
The internet has had a significant role to play in the supply of these substances. There are dedicated websites where your child can purchase these so called “legal highs”.
People who manufacture these substances have ‘normalised’ the purchase of these drugs and have made them ‘accessible’ and ‘affordable’. These drugs can be purchased online from the ‘comfort’ of your own home.
As parents our impression of what a ‘drug dealer’ can look like is often far from reality – the reality is that these substances can be bought online and / or ‘shared’ amongst friends.