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Have you come across patients suffering adverse effects of “legal highs”?

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Solomon D et al (2014) Managing misuse of novel psychoactive substances. Nursing Times; 110: 22, 12-15.




“Misuse of novel psychoactive substances, also known as legal highs, is growing in the UK. These substances include more than 200 psychoactive chemicals and are associated with harm to physical and mental health, but are not controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 or regulated as a medicine.

“This article reviews the evidence relating to psychosocial interventions for illegal substance misuse to identify how therapies could improve rates of abstinence and awareness in adults who are misusing novel psychoactive substances. The evidence is limited and there is a need for further research and increased awareness among health professionals and the general population of this growing problem.”



Let’s discuss…

  • Have you come across patients suffering adverse effects of “legal highs”?
  • The use of NPS is associated with serious health risks as the drugs are not tested to ensure they are safe for human consumption. How can this be communicated to patients?




  • Comments (1)

Readers' comments (1)

  • Anonymous

    This area has been of some concern for myself and (a few) other Nurses in inpatient settings for some time as current drug screening does not pick this up. As you are aware with patients under constant observations any change in presentation is mostly attributed their current diagnosis. With patients gaining more access to these substances through Section 17 leave (community rehabilitation) and then returning and trading on the Ward with those restricted. Making inpatient Nurses more aware of these substances and their effects is urgent as I feel many Nurses are quite ignorant of their availability, effect and consequences. Is there more harm from such manipulated synthetic drugs when combined with their psychotropic regime?

    I have suspected the use of these drugs by patients for some time now due to short periodic changes in behaviour and mental state coupled with impromptu conversations with patients when they appear to be on 'fishing trips' for information on the subject.


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