AN alarming surge in the number young people in St Helens suffering mental and physical health problems after taking so called “party drugs” has prompted renewed warnings.
The substances are triggering symptoms such as breathing difficulties, aggression, hyperactivity, paranoia, sleep problems, fits and suicidal thoughts.
Drug service clinics have alerted St Helens Council’s public health teams to a sharp increase in the number of users they are seeing.
Two years ago the Star reported mounting concerns in health circles about the substances’ effects on the mental well being of teenagers and young adults.
Then it was believed some users had been admitted to secure mental health units for treatment.
Now there are renwed fears.
Street names of the drugs range from ‘bubble’ to methedrone, mephedrone (also known as ‘meow-meow’ and M-CAT) and Benzo Fury.
In most cases it’s not known exactly what goes into the drugs. They are often described as legal highs, but this is misleading as the likes of mephedrone has been outlawed because of the concerns over the damage it can inflict.
The substances can be mixed with anything from ketamine and benzocaine to amphetamine or other toxic chemicals.
Users often present with sores to their noses and nasal passages after sniffing ‘bubble’.
St Helens Council’s cabinet member for Public Health, Councillor Sue Murphy said: “The term ‘legal highs’ is misleading - as people think they are safe to use.
“There is no way of knowing what goes into the drug and all drug use carries risks.
“Even the idea of ‘legal’ use is flawed as mephedrone for example is illegal to possess and to sell and can lead to arrest.”
The council cited the deaths of two Wigan men – which are suspected to be linked to a contaminated batch of ecstasy pills - highlights that no-one really knows the effects of drugs or what is in them “until it is too late”.
Where to go for advice?
St Helens Young People’s Drug and Alcohol Team is a confidential service for any young person (under 19 years) who wants advice or support about the harm caused by drug or alcohol use.
The team can be contacted on 01744 675605.
Alternatively call Talk to Frank (0800 776600) or go to www.talktofrank.com.
People aged 19 and older can receive support from the modern, drug service in St Helens Addaction on 01744 610555.