LONDON, October 30, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --
The only British charity dedicated to raising awareness of 'legal highs', the Angelus Foundation, has welcomed Norman Baker, the Drug Minister's intention to raise awareness of the harms of legal highs as well as measures to shut down the high street trade. Maryon Stewart, the founder of Angelus described the retailers of 'legal highs' as a "vampire industry".
The Home Office's report on New Psychoactive Substances, published today, includes plans to ban the sale of legal highs. Angelus has welcomed the main aspects of the report including making young people more aware of the harms and unpredictability of substances such as Clockwork Orange, Pink Panther and AMT.
This week, the Royal College of Physicians reported a huge increase in numbers of calls about 'legal highs' by doctors and other health professionals to the National Poisons Information Service. Last year, there was only one call about synthetic cannabis. This year, it was the second highest substance reported - higher than ecstasy, heroin and amphetamines.
Last year, there were 81 new legal psychoactive substances identified across the EU. As well as loss of life, these substances can cause heart attacks, strokes, organ damage from overheating, psychosis, paranoia and deep depression.
An Angelus survey last month of fresher students found 19% admitted, at some point, to taking a legal high - that is around 350,000 young people.
Maryon Stewart said, "Angelus has been battling against this vampire industry for five years now. So it is a good day when there are definite plans announced to dismantle it. Young people have been duped for too long about these harmful and unpredictable substances. We will continue to work with the Government to raise awareness and keep young people safe. We all know the problem is not going to disappear overnight but the intent is clear; to fight back against a trade who cares little about the welfare of young people so long as there are huge profits to be made."
Notes to editors:
1. Maryon Stewart lost her 21 year old daughter, Hester, to GBL in 2009 and established the Angelus Foundation. It is the only drugs charity dedicated to combating legal highs and club drugs and has previously launched a national campaign including the website http://www.whynotfindout.org. There is also a site for families http://www.angelusfoundation.com which includes several films informing young people about how to stay safe.
2. The Home Office report includes legislative plans to tackle the sale of legal highs. There are also measures to increase the level of awareness about their risk to well-being of young people.
3. Last month, Angelus carried out a snapshot survey of fresher students, which found 19% admitted to taking a legal high. Other findings included: over a third (36%) had been offered a legal high and three out five (61%) had a friend who had taken one.
4. The substances where most calls are placed by doctors to National Poisons Information Services are Cocaine (159), Synthetic Cannabis (131) Other Legal Highs (111) Ecstasy/MDMA (105). Other legal highs would include synthetic stimulants and psychedelics/hallucinogens. See Table 6.1 http://www.npis.org/NPISAnnualReport2013-14.pdf
SOURCE Angelus Foundation