41 people treated in Southern Trust area for ‘legal high’ abuse

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The human cost of ‘legal highs’ has been revealed by government figures which show that it is one of the fastest growing addictions in the Southern Trust area.

The figures, released by the Department of Health in response to an Assembly question, show that there were 41 people treated for abusing New Psychoative Substances (NPS) in the Southern Trust area last year.

Experts fear that the lack of data about the drugs, formerly called “legal highs,” may mean problems are just the tip of the iceberg.

NPS are synthetic versions of drugs, which can mimic the effects of illegal drugs such as amphetamines, cannabis, ecstasy and heroin but are not against the law.

The Western Trust area was revealed as the epicentre of ‘legal high’ addiction, with a total of 130 people treated last year for abusing the substances, while the Northern Trust had the fewest at just 23.

According to the Public Health Agency, one new drug is developed every week.Earlier this year, a new law was passed prohibiting the supply of psychoactive drugs or ‘legal highs’ in Northern Ireland.

Former senior coroner for Northern Ireland John Leckey likened a cluster of deaths of users to a serial killer on the loose. An estimated 20 people had died after taking stimulants known as “speckled cherries” or “speckled crosses”.