Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS) – Legal Highs

Health officials and drugs campaigners have warned so-called legal highs – officially known as Novel Psychoactive Substances – are becoming stronger with more people being treated for their effects.

Josie Smith, from Welsh drug testing agency Wedinos, said: “What we have found in the past year is an increase in the strength of NPS drugs.

“They have addiction potential far higher than some of the controlled substances.”

Doctors are also concerned by the effects of the drugs bought online and through so called “head shops”.

Julia Lewis, clinical director for mental health services for the Aneurin Bevan Health Board in South Wales, said: “We are seeing increasing numbers of people going into mental health units with acute psychotic episodes after having taken some of these legal substances.

“We are hearing of quite young people having heart attacks – I treated one 17-year-old boy who’d had a small heart attack on one of these substances.”

In a separate case last week three schoolboys from Glyneath, South Wales, wound up in hospital after taking a “legal high” bought over the counter.

Owain Vaughan, 14, took the drug with friends and was rushed to hospital after suffering severe fits, low blood pressure, burst blood vessels in his face and being violently sick

His mum Jennie said: “I’m so embarrassed but people need to be aware. My boy was given a legal high and ended up in A&E.