Tayside report on ‘legal highs’ commended

A report to improve the understanding of the use Legal Highs across Tayside has been commended during a Scottish Parliament debate.

The report, ‘New Psychoactive Substances Needs Assessment for Tayside 2014,’ was discussed by MSPs during a members’ business debate on Tuesday, January 6.

It was produced by NHS Tayside on behalf of the Alcohol and Drug Partnerships (ADPs) in Angus, Dundee and Perth and Kinross, following an anonymous survey which was completed by nearly 700 people from across Tayside.

The online survey ran for five weeks and asked people from across the region to share their own experiences and or thoughts of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), also known as Legal Highs, and the impact they had.

The report provides the most comprehensive information to date about the use of NPS for the Tayside area and will now help to make improvements to the assistance and support offered to individuals and families affected by the use of NPS.

The report also makes several recommendations on how to improve the support provided to people affected by NPS. These include improving data collection to monitor NPS-associated trends, raising awareness of NPS and supporting the restriction of access to the substances.

Lucy Denvir, consultant in Public Health for NHS Tayside, said, “The use of New Psychoactive Substances is a rapidly growing issue.

“We hope that by reporting experiences of NPS in the Tayside area and suggesting recommendations for the future, this work will provide a platform to consider and improve the ways in which we provide help and support to those who take NPS or are affected by others who do.

“We are delighted that the value and importance of this work has been recognised and commended by the Scottish Parliament and all three ADPs are now considering the recommendations of the report and are in the process of identifying further actions to take.

“We would like to thank everyone who took part in and contributed to the survey and report.”

A NHS Tayside spokesperson said: “If people are considering taking NPS they should be aware of the potential dangers and remember: they cannot be sure exactly what they are taking or the effect the substances might have on them; NPS are likely to be more harmful when mixed with other substances, including alcohol; there is little knowledge about the short and long-term harms such substances might cause.

“If anyone has taken these substances and is unwell, they should seek medical advice immediately.”

The report can be accessed at www.nhstayside.scot.nhs.uk/OurServicesA-Z/PublicHealth/PROD_213564/index.htm