MEOW MEOW…… What’s new pussycat?  LEGAL HIGHS AND YOU

Over the best part of a year, a variety of new drugs have hit the scene. The most well known of them is the one alluded to above, and more commonly know as Mephedrone (or 4-MMC, Meow, M-Cat). You may also have heard about ‘Plant Food’ or to give it its correct name, Salvia Divinorum.

So what is the deal with these so called ‘legal highs’?  Legal high is a somewhat misleading term, and actually does not really give you the full picture. Most of these substances are actually regulated by the Medicines Act, which makes it illegal to sell, supply or advertise them for human consumption. It’s the final piece of this sentence that is the loophole that shops use to get around the selling of these products.  Drugs that are intended for human consumption are rigorously trailed and tested before being put on the market. So, when you put them into your body, you are taking a real risk to your health.

So how do I recognise these and what effects would they have?

Mephedrone is a stimulant that often comes in the form of a white powder or tablet. It can produce euphoria, alertness, talkativeness and feelings of empathy. And before you get carried away, there is a substantial downside. It can cause anxiety and paranoia, heart palpitations and fits or seizures. Severe nosebleeds have also been reported after snorting. Additionally, regular use can result in a compulsive habit and a desire to redose when using. And then of course there has been the recent tabloid furore over possible links to the death of several young people.

Plant Food or Salvia is a plant containing psychoactive chemicals which produce hallucinations. It is chewed, smoked or available in tablet form and is sometimes sold as ‘herbal ecstasy’, having many of the similar positive effects of ecstasy. Negative effects include poor coordination, dizziness and slurred speech. Throat and lung irritation, headaches and mild irritability have been reported after using salvia. There is also the concern that it may trigger psychotic episodes, particularly in young people who have an underlying susceptibility to mental health problems. Most harm relating to this type of drug occur as a result of people injuring themselves when under the influence.

Many people may also experience a low in the days following using these substances, and there have been concerns that these are linked to a spate of local suicides. If you are feeling this way and are in immediate distress, contact Lifeline on 0808 808 8000.  Lifeline is a 24-hour counselling service in Northern Ireland.

So, remember there are some serious side effects to these supposed ‘legal highs’. If you have any concerns about yourself or a friend/family member using these substances you can speak to Mal at The Rainbow Project on  02890 319 030 or alternatively visit for further information.

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