8 July 2015 - Ambulance Service Warns Dangers of Legal Highs

A warning has been issued from North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust (NWAS) following an increase in 999 emergency calls as a result of patients consuming so called ‘legal highs.’

These ‘legal highs’ contain chemicals which have most often never been tested for human consumption meaning that there is no way of knowing what effects it will have on the body, both in the short and long term.

NWAS has noticed a growing trend in recent months, across the region, of people who are using these products in the same way as illegal drugs often with serious health consequences with some cases even resulting in death. 

Senior Paramedic for NWAS, Wayne Pemberton, said: “These substances are not designed for human consumption and people should not be fooled into thinking they are safe because of their nickname.

“I, myself have witnessed a change in the extremity of the symptoms presented in people who have taken these ‘legal highs,’ such as hallucination, unconsciousness and even respiratory arrest and, as we have no idea what chemicals have gone into the drugs, it can be difficult to know how to treat these patients.

“It is particularly concerning seeing young people take these substances as they become extremely vulnerable and can easily get themselves into dangerous positions as they lose their inhibitions are not in control of their actions.”

NWAS has also noticed patients becoming violent and aggressive after taking these substances, which include street names Spice, Haze and Oblivion, posing a threat towards ambulance staff who can often bear the brunt of uncontrollable behaviour.

Sector Manager for NWAS, David Rigby, said: “The effects of patients taking ‘legal highs’ are extremely worrying as symptoms are sporadic and unpredictable.

“We have seen such a wide range of people falling victim to these substances, from youngsters to hardened drug users, as they are found to be easily accessible and relatively cheap to buy but, as we have seen first-hand, the effects can be detrimental.”

NWAS urges people not to take the risk and stay away from these substances as there is no way of knowing what ingredients have gone into them or what effect they will have on each individual.

If you require further advice on drug use, please contact the FRANK drugs helpline on 0300 123 6600 or call NWAS’ 111 Service.