New Psychoactive Substances or NPS are synthetic drugs previously known as ‘legal highs’.
The term ‘legal high’s’ wrongly made users believe that these substances were safe to use as they would often come in branded packaging. NPS imitate and mimic the effects of drugs such as psychedelics, sedatives, depressants and stimulants, for example, cannabis, benzodiazepines, cocaine, and ecstasy.
NPS are very unpredictable and carry risks. NPS compounds vary from product to product so its contents may not always be the same even though they may appear to be or have the same branding. They are all regarded as not fit for human consumption. The risks are not fully understood concerning their short and long term use as very little research on the impact of these substances has been carried out.
The dose is an important factor!
Synthetic cannabinoids for example such as ‘Spice’ contain no cannabis at all and this has resulted in cases of overdosing because users may have added the same amount as they would have put in a cannabis joint. It is widely felt that one of the main risks of NPS is the amount people use.
Nitrous Oxide isn’t always funny!
The NPS nitrous oxide or ‘balloons’ known as ‘laughing gas’ have risks like any other NPS compound. Sometimes just feeling intoxicated can be a risk in itself. It is important to consider the following:- Using whilst in vulnerable situations increases the risks i.e. outside, near roads etc.
- Avoid using straight from the cracker – this can cause burns or freeze burns
- Risks increase if you use one straight after the other
- Never use in a small enclosed space
- Never use when driving or using dangerous equipment
- If you use then go somewhere safe and stay there
- Avoid using on your own
- The effects can affect your behaviour and lead to more risk
- Long term abuse is suggested to cause vitamin deficiency and potential nerve damage.
Where you are, what you’re doing and who you are with is important!
Using NPS has the possibility of causing physical and mental health problems. However, it is just as important to think about the risks in terms of who you are with, where you are and what you’re doing as these factors can increase the risks and influence the chances of having unwanted problems. The information below should be considered if you use New Psychoactive Substances;
- Do your research and make informed choicesWatch for signs of becoming dependent
- The effects can affect behaviour and lead to more risks
- It’s riskier to use if you have medical conditions
- Look after your mates
- Know the law
- If you’re having problems, ask a professional for help
- Carry condoms
- Always shake the packet to reduce the chance of taking too much
- Never mix NPS with other drugs or alcohol
- Use a small test dose before using any more
- Do not take repeated doses to close together
- Look for signs and symptoms of overdose
- Know what to do in an emergency
- If you need to, call an ambulance