LONDON, October 16, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --
Drugs awareness charity, The Angelus Foundation, launches the first national campaign to tackle the issue of legal highs
When: Tuesday 16th October at 9.30am Where: The Deutsche Bank, Winchester House, 75 London Wall, EC2M 5NG
New research, released today by the Angelus Foundation, highlights how readily available legal highs are to young people, as almost half (45%) of 16- 24 year olds admit they have been offered 'legal highs'. Despite the fact that the majority (67%) don't feel well informed about the risks, almost a third (29%) are likely to try them. In fact, a quarter (26%) wrongly believe that legal highs are safer than illegal drugs. Even more worryingly, the vast majority of parents (86%) also lack the vital knowledge needed to warn their children about the dangers of 'legal highs'.
In 2011, a new 'legal high' became available to young people across the UK almost every week for as little as £1. The dangers of these new drugs are almost completely unknown, although many have the potential to be lethal. With an additional 28 new legal highs becoming available in the UK in the first five months of 2012, this figure is set to rise throughout the rest of the year. An increasing number of deaths are being linked to the use of 'legal highs'; in the last week alone, Joseph Benett, 17, died from inhaling nitrous oxide and police in Scotland revealed three were hospitalised from a legal high called 'Annihilation'.
The Angelus Foundation, a charity which aims to raise awareness the risks of using 'legal highs' and club drugs, has today launched the Find Out campaign. Backed by the Amy Winehouse Foundation, Find Out is the first national campaign to inform and educate young people and parents about the dangers of taking 'legal highs' and other harmful social substances.
Substances sold as 'legal highs' are invariably an unknown quantity. They may be a dangerous combination of toxic chemicals which young people take, believing they are safe. There is a wide range of side effects which include psychosis, depression, panic attacks, heart problems, seizures, coma, loss of use of the bladder and even death.
In the last few years, several 'legal highs' such as GBL, Mephedrone and club drugs like Ketamine have been classified as illegal but many uncontrolled and unregulated legal highs such as Benzo Fury and MDAI are still widely available to buy over the internet. These 'legal highs' are actively marketed at young people, with no warnings about the potential health hazards.
The Find Out campaign consists of an impactful advertising campaign designed by advertising agency, Leagas Delaney and a supporting website - http://www.whynotfindout.org - which will provide impartial information and advice for young people to help them make informed decisions about legal highs. The website will also host a series of short films showing real-life case studies to support each poster. The advertising campaign will include national posters, print and online advertising as well as digital posters at key mainline train stations.
Maryon Stewart, Founder of the Angelus Foundation says,
"There has been an unprecedented influx of new 'legal highs' in the country. Currently there is a huge knowledge gap in their effects and the dangers they present. Legal does not mean safe. Angelus is devoted to raising awareness of the dangers of legal highs and club drugs and providing information and impartial advice to both young people and parents alike. Through the Find Out campaign, we can give young people the facts they need to make an informed, and wiser, decision and also give parents the tools to start these conversations with their children."
Mitch Winehouse, Founder of the Amy Winehouse Foundation says,
"A whole generation of young people is at risk from 'legal highs' simply because they don't know what serious harm they can come to by taking them. We're delighted to be working collaboratively with the Angelus Foundation to help set the record straight about the dangers of legal highs and club drugs, and to prevent any more senseless deaths."
Note to editors
Find Out is the brainchild of Maryon Stewart, who founded the Angelus Foundation after her daughter, 21 year old medical student Hester, died in 2009 after consuming the then legal GBL. Through dedicated research, education and advocacy, The Angelus Foundation strives to highlight the risks of 'legal highs' and club drugs and encourage young people to make informed, responsible choices and lead safer lives.
The Find Out campaign was unveiled today (16th October) at the Deutsche Bank, London with guest speakers including Mitch Winehouse, renowned stand-up comedian Jeff Leach and Angelus Ambassador Vicky Unwin.
The advertising campaign has been designed by advertising agency, Leagas Delaney. The supporting website has been created by Vitamin London. PR support has been provided by Mischief PR. Project managed by Katch International.
(1) The Angelus Foundation commissioned the independent online research company Research Now who surveyed 1,011 16-24 Brits, between 3rd and 8th October 2012
(2) Source: YouGov survey commissioned by Frank 18th - 23rd July 2012
(3) In 2011, 49 new 'legal highs' were identified by European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.
SOURCE The Angelus Foundation