What are they?

Illegal highs are drugs that cause psychoactive effects that contain various chemical ingredients.. They produce similar effects to other illegal drugs like cocaine, cannabis and ecstasy, but they can also be much stronger. Their ever-changing chemical compounds have meant they have not been included in the Misuse of Drugs Act. However the new Psychoactive Substances Act, which comes into effect on 26th May 2016 will make the manufacturing, supplying, possessing with intent to supply, possession in prisons or importing/exporting, including buying online, of these substances illegal. Any of these could land you up to 7 years in prison and unlimited fines.

Any of these could land you up to 7 years in prison and unlimited fines.

These substances are labelled “not for human consumption” and have been marketed as plant food, bath salts and incense, among others. The overwhelming assumption is that ‘legal’ has meant safe, which is certainly not the case. This, alongside availability and cheap prices has sometimes led to bad, or even fatal, consequences.

You do not know what you are putting into your body when you take these drugs. For this reason, you should avoid taking them with alcohol and other drugs, the effects are totally unpredictable. The long-term consequences are not known and could be very dangerous to you and your health. Illegal highs can also be addictive and there are additional risks if they are injected.

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Know the score

Do you know what the law says about illegal highs? Are you familiar with the risks associated with taking them?

Illegal highs fall into four categories:

Stimulants Main role to stimulate ‘uppers’

Overheating, memory loss, damage to mental health, heart irregularities

Other names:

Mephedrone, Magic Crystals, M1, Ritalin, Posh, Nopaine, Gogaine, Fake Cocaine, Evoke, ethylphenidate, Ching, Burst, Banshee Dust, Dust til Dawn, Rave, China White, Charge, Synthacaine,

Downers Making users feel relaxed or euphoric

Can cause changes in thought, perception and mood and cause hallucinations

Other names:
Distorts how you perceive the world

physical accidents, high potency, slow acting

Other names:

2-C-B Fly, Pink Panther, Sparkle E, Green Beans, Bk-2CB, Diclazepam, Morning Glory, Blue Lotus, San Pedro

Relaxed, chilled ‘stoned’

kidney damage, agitation, psychosis, coma, convulsions

Other names:

X, Tai High, Hawaiian Haze, Spice, Mary Joy, Exodus Damnation, Devil’s Weed, Clockwork Orange, Bombay Blue Extreme, Blue Cheese, Black Mamba, Annihilation, Amsterdam Gold

These drugs can come in various forms: powders, pills, liquids and plants. They can be taken in a variety of ways: sniffed, swallowed, injected, inhaled or smoked. However because they are relatively new and there has been little research into the effects, essentially every product/batch is a mystery. There is no way of telling how you and your body will react to these drugs, so it is best to avoid them all together.

Reducing the risk

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Start low & go slow

Always take a test dose first and wait at least 2 hours before taking more.

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Avoid mixing drugs (including alcohol)

Mixing drugs can have unpredictable effects and put additional strain on your internal organs.

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Know what you’re taking

Make sure you understand dosage, effects and how long it should take to feel the effects. Get advice from others who have used it and research online, but don’t believe everything you hear. Look it up on user forums, Wikipedia or websites such as www.erowid.org.

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Look after your mates

If they are asleep or unconscious put them in the recovery position and don’t leave them unattended. Don’t be afraid of seeking help and being honest about what has been taken.

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Try to use with friends in a safe place

especially if it’s your first time. If you must use alone tell someone where you are and what you’re doing. The setting you use drugs in can influence the type of experience you have, so try to be in a place you feel comfortable with people you trust.

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Be aware

That using drugs may be more dangerous if you have physical health problems (such as with blood pressure, your heart or asthma), mental health problems, you feel unwell or are stressed or unhappy.

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Give yourself time

to recover the following day

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Keep hydrated

Aim to sip a pint of water over an hour, particularly if you’re dancing.

Get in touch

Illegal Highs can have unintended consequences and might lead to you being confused, panicked, vomiting, having a bad trip or passing out. If you or someone you are with has a bad reaction to the drugs and you are worried about your or their safety then please ring 999.

It is important that you are honest with the emergency worker (phone operator and paramedic) about has been taken so they can make the best decisions about looking after you. Be honest – you won’t get into trouble.

For friendly and confidential advice and support on Illegal Highs, other drugs & alcohol: