Warning over hidden perils of legal highs

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DRUG workers in St Helens are warning about the dangers of so-called “legal highs” - following a sharp increase in the number of young people attending local clinics.

Substances described as “bubble”, methedrone, mephedrone, “meow-meow”, M-CAT and Benzo Fury can trigger a wide range of mental and physical problems, including breathing difficulties, aggression, hyperactivity, paranoia, sleep problems, fits and suicidal thoughts.

In most cases it’s not known exactly what goes into the drugs. They can also be mixed with anything from ketamine and benzocaine to amphetamine or other toxic chemicals.

Users often present with sores to their noses and nasal passages after sniffing “bubble” too.

Coun Sue Murphy, St Helens Council’s cabinet member for public health, said: “The term ‘legal highs’ is misleading - as people think they are safe to use. There is no way of knowing what goes into the drug and all drug use carries risks.

“Even the idea of ‘legal’ use is flawed as mephedrone, for example, is illegal to possess and to sell and can lead to arrest.”

Recent deaths in the neighbouring Wigan area are suspected to be linked to a contaminated batch of ecstasy pills - again highlighting that no-one knows exactly what is in the drugs until it is too late.

Anybody who is regularly using or thinking about using any substances should do so with extreme caution. The safest thing is to not use them at all.

St Helens young people’s drug and alcohol team is a confidential service for any young person - under 19 years old - who wants advice or support about the harm caused by drug or alcohol use. The team can be contacted on 01744 675605.

Alternatively, you can call Talk to Frank on 0800 776 600 or go online at: www.talktofrank.com.

Anyone aged 19 or over can receive support from St Helens Addaction on 01744 610555.