The Angelus Foundation: A Generation is Being Harmed by ‘Legal Highs’

By The Angelus Foundation, PRNE
Monday, October 24, 2011

LONDON, October 25, 2011 -

Recommendations in the long-awaited Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) report on ‘legal highs’ will leave a generation of young people at risk of harm and even death, unless the Government take urgent action, according to a spokesperson for the Angelus Foundation.  

Maryon Stewart, who lost her 21-year-old daughter Hester to the ‘legal high’ GBL (paint stripper) and went on to set up the Angelus Foundation to raise awareness about the dangers of ‘legal highs’ and party drugs, says “The Government has merely paid lip service to a serious problem that has life-threatening consequences for young people.  Banning substances is a complete waste of time, as before the bans are even in place, chemists simply tweak the molecules and put new substances on the market.  Last year, there were 41 new substances discovered in the European Union (the majority from the UK) and no-one really knows what the risks of using them may be.”  

‘Legal highs’ are often a combination of Class B drugs and chemicals never intended for human consumption and can cause serious harm, including severe psychosis, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, heavy nose bleeds, respiratory problems and, in the  case of ketamine, even organ failure. However, due to lack of awareness, huge numbers of young people play Russian Roulette with their lives by unknowingly taking party drugs on a regular basis, believing they are safe because they are legal.

“Now, due to Government cutbacks, the Police have announced a reduction in drug-related activity and the Home Office have allocated only a very small budget to analysing new substances, which means that we literally have cupboards full of substances from Amnesty Bins in clubs which we cannot analyse due to a lack of funds. So, not only do we not know what’s in the substances that young people are taking, but this year we don’t even know what’s on the market,” said John Ramsey, Toxicologist and Director of TICTAC, St Georges University of London. “In addition to banning new substances as they appear, we need to ensure that resources are put into enforcement of the law that controls the supply of the substances that we already know about.”

“The constructive recommendations in the ACMD report published today will require budget and manpower to implement.  So far the Government have failed to commit to funding the solutions that have been put forward. The Angelus Foundation is due to meet with Lord Henley, the new Crime Prevention Minister -to highlight the urgent need for action and to call for a centre of excellence in London that will link up the Amnesty Bins in night clubs with the police and the laboratory. Rather than being on the back foot, this will give some insight as to what’s on the market and what these ever-changing substances actually contain, in order that the information may be placed in the public domain. In order to literally save lives, parents can then have informed conversations with their children, and young people can make smarter choices, looking after themselves as well as their friends.

For further information please contact:
Maryon Stewart at the Angelus Foundation on +44(0)8451771070
Holly Sutton at Journalista
T: +44(0)20-7232-4671
M: +44(0)7966280542


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