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‘Legal Highs’

So called ‘legal highs’  are also known as NPS’s – or New Psychoactive Substances.  Most have had very limited or no testing on humans so all the risks of taking them are not yet known for certain.  Some have caused paranoia, psychosis, seizures and deaths.  Young people tend to take these as they are readily available, do not always appear on the list of banned drugs – hence ‘legal highs ‘, – and they believe them to be less dangerous than the substances they mimic.  It is still a minority of young people who use these drugs – they are often associated more with rural areas – possibly because they can be bought online, with the clubs scene and amongst the gay community.


There has also been a rise in the abuse of prescription drugs – though this has been much more prevalent in the USA rather than the UK. However, drug use amongst 11 – 15 year olds has been falling since a peak in 2003 and one of the most popular NPS drugs – mephedrone (or meow meow) was made illegal in 2010  when it had reached 4.4% of drug users – but in the 2014 Crime Survey for England and Wales it had fallen to 1.9%.


Generic risk factors for users include unstable home environments, petty offending, truanting from school or college;  prevention approaches include stable home and school lives and  good social networking.  Young people below the age of 15 are much less likely to use these substances. It is very important that young people know of the very real dangers from using NPS’s.  There have been many deaths and severe reactions leading to long term health problems. In Russia in 2014, there were reports of dozens of deaths from the use of Spice; whilst in the UK there were 18 deaths from the use of 4-M-4-MAR (also known as 4,4′-DMAR. and 4-methyl-euphoria).


Remember many of these ‘designer drugs’ are made to mimic the effects of older drugs such as cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy etc.  Some are stimulants, some sedative types, some hallucinogenic.  The names and actual chemical content of these substances change quickly – but here is a list of just some of the drugs sold in recent years and used all over the world.  Those underlined have been the most prevalent.



Mephedrone, Spice, Clockwork Orange, Black Mamba,  Bath Salts, Benzo Fury,  MDA1, Bromo Dragonfly, methoxetamine (also known as mexxy or MXE), DXM,Annihilation,Aztec Gold, Pump- it Powder

Flakka (sometimes called gravel),  Kratom, Moon Rocks, Molly,MDMA, RelaxMax or Zannie, Phenazepan, Sizzurp/Purple Drank, Lean, Hyocine, Scopoderm.

25i, Phenethylamines (also known as Smiles and N-bomb, 2c-I-NBOMe, DOB, Dime),Gabapentin (this is an approved drug for treatment of epilepsy), doxylam,

PMA, PMMA, (also known as Pink McDonald’s, Einsteins, E=MC2),  2CB(also known as bromo, nexus), O-desmethyltramadol (known as Krypton),


Weed Candy  –  see information on marijuana edibles.