Charities host national conference in Northampton to tackle issue of legal highs

Library picture
Library picture

Leading drugs charities and organisations dealing with the issue of legal highs are expected to hear how organisations are beginning to fight back at a national conference being held in Northampton today.

The second annual New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) conference, titled ‘Responding Positively to the Ripple Effect’, will be held at the Park Inn in Northampton and will see a video message from drugs minister Mike Penning MP played to hundreds of practitioners from across the country.

The conference is being held jointly between legal highs awareness charities, Angelus, and Northamptonshire-based Solve It.

Kevin Shapland, chair of trustees for Solve It, said: “Our first conference last year showed we have practitioner organisations such as health, trading standards, police and prisons uncertain how to respond to the phenomenon of ‘legal highs’.

“At least now we can see how some organisations have begun to fight back against the sense of helplessness. The future of the legal highs market is still very uncertain. This national conference will allow agencies to share intelligence about how certain approaches have made a big difference.”

The Government this month published the Psychoactive Substances Bill, which is expected to impact on the hundreds of High Street headshops selling legal highs. But there is a general recognition that all stakeholders need to improve the delivery of prevention, education and treatment.

According to Solve It, there is increased reporting of regular use of legal highs leading to dependence and bringing specific mental and physical health issues for practitioners to deal with. There have been many reports of addiction, bullying and violence in British prisons being caused by widespread NPS use.

Chief executive of Angelus, Jan King, said: “The discussions around legal highs at the moment are bound to focus on the Psychoactive Substances Bill and the forthcoming legal changes on supply. But new laws alone were never going to be enough.

“This conference shows how we need a broad and urgent response to these legal drugs starting with a greater commitment to raising awareness of the risks. The dangers to young people are as great as ever.”

Solve It is also keen to speak to people between the ages of 16 and 25 to get their experience of legal highs.

To get in touch, call the Solve It team on 01536 414690 or email info@solveitonline.co.uk.