With the festival season approaching Suffolk Police is appealing to residents, particularly younger people, to be wary of the hidden dangers of taking ‘legal highs’ also known as ‘chemical highs’ or New Psychoactive Substances.
Legal highs are substances that mimic the effects of controlled drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy and cannabis.
These substances can take the form of powders, pills and herbal materials and look similar to the controlled drugs that they mimic.
They are not all covered by the Misuse of Drugs Act as their chemical structure has been slightly altered, which makes them very dangerous as it is impossible to predict the side effects or long term health risks that they may cause.
As summer is just around the corner the festival season will also soon be upon us with revellers from Suffolk travelling to events both in and out of the county.
Some festival-goers may be tempted to purchase legal highs or could come in contact with them at the events and police want people to be aware of their dangers. A section has been added to the Suffolk Police website with information about what chemical highs there are out there and what their possible side effects are.
Legal highs can have very different effects on users and risks and side effects are increased if used with alcohol or other drugs. One type of substance can also be much stronger than another, in some cases, ten times stronger and this can lead to accidental overdosing.
Other risks of legal highs include reduced inhibitions, drowsiness, excited or paranoid states, psychosis, hallucinations, coma and seizures.
Many have been directly linked to emergency hospital admissions and, in some cases, deaths.
Robin Pivett the Suffolk Police Controlled Drug and Chemical Liaison Officer said: “The dangers of ingesting or smoking many of the substances that are being openly sold as safe are really unknown.
“Pharmaceutical products undergo years of testing costing billions of pounds, while these new substances have never been tested and although advertised as legal, that is not always the case.
“Suppliers are trying to hide by giving messages such as not to be sold to those under 18yrs, not for human consumption or used for chemical research only, but what they are really doing is circumnavigating the law in order to make a financial gain for themselves, giving little or no thought of the health implications to the user.”
Suffolk Police have been using a blue tooth device to relay messages about legal highs to students at Suffolk College. The device sends out a message to all phones within a 100 metre radius.
Additionally, local Safer Neighbourhood Teams will be distributing posters to be displayed in public over the coming weeks highlighting the dangers of taking legal highs.
Suffolk Police are working with Suffolk Trading Standards to try and continue raising awareness of chemical highs and their dangers following a series of radio adverts that were commissioned by Suffolk Police and Public Health Suffolk and played on Town 102 earlier this year.
For more information about legal highs visit: