Abuse and addiction to legal highs has exploded over the past ten years in the UK. More and more individuals have turned to what they thought was a safer option to illicit or prescribed drugs, as a means to get high or to relax.
Since their introduction, many legal highs have been banned and reclassified as illicit drugs. This has happened where there have been a notable number of deaths or hospital admissions relating to a particular legal high.
The UK government, in response, have also enforced closure of all legal high shops, reducing their availability, but also driving the whole legal high business underground.
Legal high abuse and addiction is particularly common in the younger generation and amongst teenagers. Sadly, some have tragically paid with their life, thinking that a legal high was safe to take when it was not.
Without any regulation, legal highs can contain lethal and addictive concoctions, making them more dangerous than ever before. If you or a loved one need help for a legal high problem, please contact us straight away for expert advice on how to stop.
Legal highs are synthetic drugs produced to mimic the effects of illicit or prescribed drugs. Generally they are manufactured from household products. Although they are sold as “not fit for human consumption” many buy them with the sole purpose of ingesting them for their euphoric effects.
In May 2016, the government implemented a blanket ban on all legal highs that have psychoactive properties under the Psychoactive Substance Misuse Act 2016. However, there are still some exceptions; there are drugs available that clearly have psychoactive and dangerous effects but are still being sold legally – laughing gas is a prime example of this.
Legal highs, by definition, is a misleading name, as most aren’t actually legal anymore. The UK government was always one step behind the manufacturers; as soon as they banned one substance, the manufacturers would tweak the chemical composition and re-release the drug under a different name. Now that most of these substances are banned under the Psychoactive Substance Misuse Act 2016, it is impossible to monitor what is going into the drugs, making them more unpredictable and dangerous than ever before.
Legal highs can be very addictive, both physically and psychologically. Spice is a good example of what the general public originally thought was a legal and safe alternative to cannabis; it has since been proved to be deadly, very potent and extremely addictive. Likened to heroin for its effects, its has hit the headlines time and time again for turning users into “zombies”.
Even though Spice is now banned, many are still addicted to it and obtaining stronger strains from the black market and street dealers.
Mephedrone/M-Cat, previously a legal high, notoriously killed a large number of individuals. It was found to be longer lasting, cheaper and more potent than Cocaine, with similar effects. It is also seductively addictive and dangerous.
Synthetic benzodiazepines such as Benzo Fury and Etizolam have also caused a high number of deaths and drug dependencies and addiction throughout the UK. Both substances are now banned under the Psychoactive Drug Misuse Act, but this has not stopped them from being sold and mass produced illegally.
Legal highs can be psychologically and also physically addictive, depending on the legal high. If you are taking a legal high, or ex legal high regularly and feel withdrawal symptoms come on of you take any less than normal, then the chances are that you do have a physical dependence to the drug and will professional help to manage a safe detox.
If you obsessively think about a legal high, will go to extreme lengths to get it, order in bulk and abuse it, want to stop but feel compelled to take it, then you definitely have a psychological addiction. In this instance full inpatient rehab rehabilitation is required, alongside a medical detox for any physical dependence present.
Once assessed on admission to our clinic, our medical staff will be able to determine if there is a physical dependence present, a psychological dependence present, or both. Some legal highs do create physical tolerance and dependence, and therefore need a medical detox in order to safely stop.
Depending on the legal high, an approved detox regime of medication will be agreed with you to help you through the period of withdrawals. Withdrawal symptoms vary greatly as there are so many different legal highs available, some can be very dangerous and even life threatening. So it is very important to us, that you are as comfortable and as safe as possible during the detoxification process.
During detox, you will receive high levels of support and monitoring from our counsellors and staff, who are available 24/7 to help you each and every step of the way.
Most stimulants and psychoactive drugs do not have a set detox regime as such, as there is no evidence to support that they are physically addictive.
Our experience is that any drug taken for a long period of time and frequently, when stopped, some withdrawal effects will surface. The most common withdrawal effects of psychologically addictive drugs include: increased anxiety, drug cravings, racing thoughts, restlessness, foggy and unclear thinking, change in appetite and change in sleep pattern.
At Step by Step Recovery, we don’t want any of our clients to suffer during detox; this can be counterproductive and lead them to leaving due to intense psychological drug cravings.
During your initial assessment on admission to our clinic, our medical staff will discuss a short and light course of medication to help you settle and get through the worst of the psychological drug cravings. This will enable you to relax and concentrate on the therapy that is offered to help you get well.
Legal Highs are not safe; they are often produced from household and garden chemicals that are not fit for human consumption. Many legal highs contain a number of different chemicals for different effects. You never know exactly what you are taking or what is in the drug. Even the same brand name can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Many of them contain poisons, that if taken in excess can be fatal.
There are varying types of legal highs to mimic different classes of illicit drugs. They are:
Stimulants – BZP, Mephedrone, Benzofurans and Methiopropamine
Sedatives – Benzodiazepine analogues such as Etizolam and new synthetic opioids
Hallucinogens – NBOMes and alpha-methyltryptamine
Dissociatives – Methoxetamine
Synthetic Cannabinoids – Spice, Black Mamba, K2, 5FAKB-48
The UK are the Biggest Internet Buyers of Legal Highs and Prescription Drugs Globally
The global drug survey conducted in 2014, showed that the UK were the biggest internet drug buyers around the world. This is staggering considering how small the UK is in comparison to other countries. It also reflects how big a part the internet plays in sustaining addiction and the purchase of illicit drugs and so called “legal highs”
As there are so many legal highs and ex legal highs available on the market, physical symptoms can vary greatly. The best way to tell if someone is abusing or is addicted to a drug is to observe their behaviours.
Signs and symptoms of legal high drug abuse and addiction include:
Being secretive and distant
Loss of interest in hobbies and old friends
Change in friends, or isolating
Being manipulative and dishonest
Many packages being delivered to the house for them
Disappearing for lengthily periods of time
Change in appearance, sleep and appetite
Aggression and impatience
Money and valuables going missing
Appearing preoccupied and not present in the moment
Change in sex drive
Avoidance of emotional intimacy or confrontation
Appearing either hyperactive or very sleepy and lethargic
Finding drug paraphernalia
Basically, any marked change in your loved ones appearance or behaviour that cannot be explained, could mean that they are abusing or are addicted to a drug, possibly a legal high.
You should not ignore these changes and instead sit calmly with your loved one and encourage them to get help. Give reasons for why you are concerned and also instances that have left you feeling suspicious, manipulated or hurt.
If you need any advice on how to help a family member get into our inpatient detox and rehabilitation treatment programme, please do call us and we will assist in anyway that we can.
Whether there is a physical legal high drug dependency present or not, an individual can still be addicted. Addiction resides in the individual’s mind and is a chronic and progressive, life threatening illness.
An individual suffering from the disease of addiction, will be compelled to take legal highs regardless of the negative consequences they incur as a result. Therefore, the compulsion must be treated in order to prevent relapse.
We offer bespoke treatment programmes to anyone suffering from a dependence, abuse or addiction to alcohol, drugs or an activity. Our treatment programmes are aimed at treating the individual as a whole, using holistic and person centred methods of proven addiction treatment.
With abuse and addiction, a period of abstinence is very rarely enough; with the same thinking, mind set and coping strategies, there is an extremely high chance of relapse.
A comprehensive and bespoke treatment programme is required in order to treat the psychological aspect of abuse and addiction, and this is exactly what we offer. We tailor our treatments to you as an individual, and provide you with a set of recovery tools and coping strategies that will help to keep you safe from relapse on returning back home.
Furthermore if your complete a 4 week treatment programme with us, you will be entitled to free lifetime aftercare. We wholeheartedly want our clients to stay in recovery and will continue to support you on your return back home from treatment.
Legal highs have become more and more popular and the Psychoactive Substance Misuse ban introduced in 2016 seems to have little effect so far to act as a deterrent.
In 2016 a record number of deaths occurred in England and Wales caused by fatal poisoning from legal and illegal drugs, opioids and synthetic opioids in particular.
The National Office for Statistics (ONS) reported that 3,744 people died in 2016 as a result of drug overdose and poisoning; this is 70 more people that the previous year and the highest number ever recorded since record began in 1993
Legal high products that are still available, including synthetic cannabinoids such as Spice and synthetic stimulants such as Mephedrone were the cause of 123 deaths in 2016.
39 of these deaths were due to legal highs that were not covered by the blanket ban on psychoactive substances.
Need Help to Stop Legal High Addiction?
If you or a loved one need help to stop legal highs, please call us to discuss an admission and the treatment required. We assess each person individually, so the duration and type of residential programme required, will be dependent on your own individual circumstances and treatment needs.
We can provide a bespoke inpatient detox and rehabilitation programme for anyone suffering from a problem with legal highs. You can break free and we can show you how!