FEATURE ON ‘LEGAL HIGHS’: Addaction help children as young as 11

Some 'legal highs' seized in the county by Lincolnshire Trading Standards. Image for illustration only.
Some 'legal highs' seized in the county by Lincolnshire Trading Standards. Image for illustration only.

The UK’s leading drug and alcohol charity Addaction says it has seen an increase in young people using ‘legal highs’ across the county - with the Boston team dealing with a child as young as 11.

Officially called new psychoactive substances (NPS) - Addaction says these so-called ‘legal highs’ can cause a series of physical and mental health side effects - with at least two young people in Lincolnshire being sectioned ‘as a result of the severe mental health issues caused by using NPS’.

Legal high packaging clearly states 'not fit for human consumption'.

Legal high packaging clearly states 'not fit for human consumption'.

A spokeman said: “We have seen young people using NPS presenting the following mental and physical side effects: chest pains, heart palpitations, stomach pains, shakes, sweating, seizures, loss of consciousness, vomiting, loss of appetite, agitation and physical aggression, paranoia, anxiety, flashbacks, psychosis, confusion and memory loss.

“We have seen young people from all different backgrounds experimenting with NPS and seen them experience homelessness, family breakdown, and loss of educational and work placements due to their NPS usage.”

They said one anonymous ex-user, a promising sportsman, had to give up sport after becoming addicted to the substances - which left him shaking, vomiting, and in pain. He sought help at Addaction in Boston, which described how the substance gave him issues with his temper where he would ‘punch solid surfaces’. They said the man is now off the substances, after several relapses, and is building his strength back up. However, he told the charity he feels the use of legal highs has damaged his health in the long-term.

A spokesman for Addaction Boston said: “Young people in particular seem to increase their usage, quickly becoming dependent very quickly, and we see an increase in physical and mental health issues.”

The team at Boston have been dealing with users ranging in age from as young as 11 up to 65.

Those seeking help and treatment through Addaction are given an initial assessment.

From this the staff plan an individual package of care which meets their individual needs. This could be about addressing an array of issues including housing, physical health, and mental health.

The spokesman continued: “Staff then look at the young person’s coping skills and through solution-focussed intervention would address the substance misuse.”

Those concerned a family member or friend may be using the substances are urged to speak to Addaction for advice.

The spokesman added: “It’s important to try and talk to their young person, to be honest and to be patient.”

If you have concerns about the use of ‘legal highs’ contact Addaction Boston, on 01205 319920 or email info@addac
tion.org.uk.