Keep our community safe from the risks of ‘legal highs’

img_5689A report from Stephen Morgan, council candidate for Charles Dickens Ward in May.

You may have heard about so-called ‘legal highs’.Perhaps you know someone who has experimented with them. Maybe you have even tried them yourself.

But did you know that in many cases, they are not actually legal? And many have been shown to be unsafe, and their use is being raised on the doorstep across Charles Dickens ward.

‘Legal highs’ is a misleading term. We should really call them ‘New Psychoactive Substances’ or NPS for short.

Produced in factories in China, many of these drugs are imported to Portsmouth by post. They are designed to reproduce the effects of illegal substances – from stimulants like cocaine and ecstasy, to hallucinogens like ketamine and LSD.

The range of NPS is constantly changing. A number have been proven to cause paranoia, psychosis, seizures and even death.

More than 500 have already been banned. But new ones arrive on the market regularly. And they are sold not only by drug dealers, but also over the counter by certain local shops.

The truth about NPS is that most have never been properly tested on people. We don’t always know what the risks are in taking them. But some risks are clear:

  • users curious about drug taking, and reassured by the idea of a ‘legal high’, may suffer serious ill health as a result of experimentation
  • NPS represent another, easily available, way to further degrade the lives of vulnerable people
  • seen potentially as a ‘safe option’ by dealers, NPS may encourage drug dealing on our streets, along with associated crimes like theft and violence
  • allof the above may be harmful to quality of life in our community.

My first priority is always the wellbeing of the people who live, work and study in Charles Dickens ward.

If elected to the council this May, I will argue strongly for education and outreach work around the issue of NPS. I want the grey areas illuminated. I want all of us to know and understand the risks, and appreciate our responsibilities.

Put simply, I want our community to be a safe, healthy and happy place for everyone.

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