HEALTH MAT­TERS

Macclesfield Express - - MACCLESFIELD PEOPLE -

●● WITH Sally Rogers, lead nurse and mem­ber of the NHS East­ern Ch­e­sire Clin­i­cal Com­mis­sion­ing Group (CCG) Gov­ern­ing Body

THIS week I was to talk about le­gal highs, a prob­lem that east­ern Cheshire is by no means im­mune to and one that still shrouded in much con­fu­sion. A lot of the mis­con­cep­tions sur­round­ing le­gal highs can be at­trib­uted to their name – as in fact, many of them are not le­gal at all and a lot of drugs that are sols as le­gal highs ac­tu­ally con­tain in­gre­di­ents that are il­le­gal to pos­sess.

Le­gal highs are sub­stances that have sim­i­lar ef­fects to il­le­gal drugs like co­caine and cannabis and can carry se­ri­ous health risks.

The chem­i­cals they con­tain have in most cases never been used be­fore in drugs for hu­man con­sump­tion.

This means they haven’t been tested to show they are safe and users can never be cer­tain what they are tak­ing and what the ef­fects might be.

Other risks in­clude the fact that chem­i­cal in­gre­di­ents in a so-called le­gal high can be changed with­out you know­ing, so the risks are un­pre­dictable, and even drugs that look sim­i­lar or have sim­i­lar names may be of vary­ing strengths and have dif­fer­ent ef­fects.

Le­gal highs can also cause se­ri­ous side ef­fects, such as para­noia, coma, seizures and, in rare cases, even death.

In­deed, four peo­ple in Cheshire in­clud­ing a 16-year-old girl, were hos­pi­talised in June last year af­ter tak­ing the po­ten­tially lethal le­gal high ‘Ver­tex’.

Ver­tex is of­ten sold as in­cense, but lab tests have con­firmed that some sam­ples con­tain a syn­thetic cannabis called AB-CHMINACA (AB-C), which is al­ready il­le­gal in the US and has been linked to a num­ber of fa­tal­i­ties across Europe, with symp­toms in­clud­ing deliri­ous rant­ing and very high body tem­per­a­tures.

While Ver­tex is cur­rently ‘le­gal’, this may well change, as was the case with drugs pre­vi­ously sold as le­gal highs - such as mephedrone (meow meow or Mcat), napthy­ron, BZP and GBL - which are not con­trolled un­der the Mis­use of Drugs Act.

If you or some­one you know is strug­gling with sub­stance mis­use, help is avail­able in east­ern Cheshire. Visit www.cwp. nhs.uk/ser­vices/2540cheshire-east-sub­stancemis­use-ser­vice or call 01625422100.

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