Most young people will have learned the term “legal highs” from friends, or possibly while at school, or maybe even in the media. In reality, there is great deal of information out there in regards to “legal highs” but the real question is, what are they and are they really such a big deal? Let’s take a quick look and find out.
Legal highs, what are they?
Here’s a quick look at the science of it all. Substances that give similar effects, or the same affects as ecstasy, cannabis, cocaine, or other illegal drugs, but are not yet controlled, are known as “legal highs”, “research chemicals” or “new psychoactive substances“. These drugs have not yet fallen under the control of the Misuse of Drugs Act. Because these substances are relatively new, there has not been significant research in regards to their effects and they still remain uncontrolled. These “legal highs” are being researched more and more in order to discover the dangers they may possess and to discover if they should actually be made illegal.
Why is there so much interest in “legal highs”?
At this time, there has not been much useful research into the effects of “legal highs” on people. No one knows what the long term, medium-term, or short-term effects may be. Because of this, we are not always able to provide precise advice in regards to a particular named substance. However, there are some key facts that all “legal highs” commonly share:
- Just because possessing a drug may be legal, does not mean it is safe.
- It has become more and more clear that “legal highs” are, often times, far from being harmless and often carry comparable health risks to other drugs like speed, ecstasy, cocaine, and some of these substances may even have additional harmful effects.
- The use of “legal highs” carry risk, such as, drowsiness, reduced inhibitions, coma, seizures, paranoid and excited states, and the possibility of death.
- When used with alcohol or other drugs, there is an increase of these risks.
- Just because a substance is being sold as “legal” does not mean it is. Some of these substances have been found to actually contain one or more drugs that are indeed illegal. You might think you are carrying around a “legal high” drug that will not get you in trouble; however, the fact is, that it might be something entirely different and might even be a Class B illegal drug.
Here is something you should know
You should be aware that under current rules, teachers are allowed to confiscate and get rid of any and all “legal highs” they come across on school property, under the guidance of the school’s policy. In fact, now, a few of these so-called “legal highs” are banned substances; the drug that goes by the street name “meow meow” (mephedrone), was reclassified as a Class B substance in 2010.
If you feel you are being pressured to take a “legal high”, here is some advice.
The first thing you need to know is that you are not alone! Sometimes it is easy to feel and think that you are the only person that has not experimented with illegal or legal drugs; this is not so. In reality most people in your age group do not take drugs, so in actuality, you are in the majority. There are several issues that you need to establish for yourself. Where do you stand on issues such as alcohol, sex, and drugs? It is easier to stay true to yourself when you know your own mind.
Clearly and firmly say “No”! You do not need to make a big deal about it, just stay firm. If your friends continue in their efforts to persuade you, stand strong; you do not have to follow the crowd, you are your own person. Although your friends may not be showing it, they will respect you more if you remain decisive and clear about what you want to do and what you don’t.
This post has been updated since its original publication in 2014.