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Legal highs: Record number detected say doctors

By Bad Rabbits, Feb 3, 2012 | Updated: Feb 6, 2012 | | |
  1. Bad Rabbits
    View attachment 24559 A record number of new legal highs were identified last year, top British scientists have told Newsbeat.

    The scientists - who've advised the government before - told Newsbeat that more than 41 new substances were detected across Europe in 2011, breaking the previous year's tally.

    They are mainly from China and being bought by UK users over the internet.

    The official figure is set to be confirmed later in the year by the EU drugs agency, the EMCDDA.

    Because the substances haven't been tested yet the long-term effects are unknown.

    Newsbeat went to Edinburgh to meet 24-year-old Harry.

    "I've used a few legal substances," he tells us on his way to college. "From research chemicals to herbal highs."

    He also admits to taking banned drugs and claims his experience of legal highs have been positive

    It was a pretty intense kind of hallucination… it makes you forget about a lot of things, so you can just concentrate on what's there in the moment."

    'Panic attack'

    His experience is very different from other Newsbeat listeners who got in touch.

    Allen from Crewe said: "You're left feeling horrible, sweating and shaking."

    While Pete from Sunderland told Newsbeat: "I experienced very high heart rates, extreme paranoia."

    View attachment 24560 Katy MacLeod says it can be harder to treat addiction to legal highs.

    Gemma from Southampton described the reaction that she experienced: "I couldn't feel my body. I had what I think was a panic attack. It lasted several hours."

    Katy MacLeod from Edinburgh Crew 2000, a charity that helps young people with substance issues, said legal highs were difficult to deal with.

    "We already know quite a lot about cocaine, ecstasy and ketamine," she said.

    "It's probably easier to treat people with those kind of drugs, because we have much more pieces of research done. With legal highs, the same knowledge base isn't there yet."

    The symptoms Allen, Pete and Gemma described were all seen by psychiatrists at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary two years ago. Only much worse.

    Unknown risk

    In just a couple of weeks, they treated 34 people who had all been poisoned by Ivory Wave, which has now been banned.

    The government says it will use powers that came in in November to ban all potentially dangerous new substances while they're being tested.

    Dr Stephen Potts says people are ignorant about the new highs.

    But Dr Stephen Potts, who works at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, says he's worried about new legal highs emerging as soon as others are banned.

    "The people who take them don't know what's in them," he explains. "The people who sell them don't know what's in them, and we as the doctors certainly don't know what's in them."

    Dr John Ramsey tests new legal highs in his laboratory at St George's medical school in London.

    He told Newsbeat that some of the new substances he comes across are potentially very dangerous: "We've got a compound we found a couple of days ago which is potent at 100 micrograms - that's a tiny amount.

    "Most drugs are active at about 100 milligrams. This one is about a 1000 times more potent.

    "The risks people are taking are just not worth it."

    Original artice: http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/16866929


  1. cyferman
    another bright idea by the drug war. some might think theyre trying to coerce us into spending money on the things they want us to.
  2. dnb_coqui
    I mean, it freaks me out that some of those compounds do come from China, and in who knows what process do they really standardize in regards to synthesizing these compounds. Of course these mindset could most probably be the mindset ingrained into generations that products from China are questionable in regards to quality and regulations to oversee that a massive accident doesn't happen. As if the situation would not happen else where like France or USA. I see great potential on engineering a device that would be available for a reasonable price without restrictions on procuring the device that could if not 100% at least 87% accurate as to which compound the end user has. Being that there is a market for the compounds and safety is an issue, the devices would sell like hot cakes at a Marijuana Convention.
  3. dnb_coqui
    "Accurately reveal what compound" I meant. I'm a little toasted on both sides.
  4. Elphantwalker
    That's a cool idea. Certainly such a device could be used with a cell phone app to give the user an idea of what the chemical in question might due to a human subject. In other words, 1) take a sample of a substance, 2) use the tricorder, 3) determine the potential effects. I don't know if tricorder technology is portable yet, but I'd pay $29.95 for one.
  5. dnb_coqui
    I don't know if it's possible to manufacture a gas spectrometer type device for that cheap. I could imagine it the size of a laptop for a few hundred bucks. It would appeal to researches who take pride in safety.
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