Headshops and the dangers of some products.

The HSE today issued a propaganda release on behalf of the Minister Pat Carey. There much common sense to be found here and let nobody think that taking unknown pharmaceutical substances is risk free. Sometimes the risks are substantial.

7th July, 2010

HSE Launches Drugs Awareness Campaign

Legal or illegal highs can cause serious health problems – they are anything but safe

The HSE has unveiled a new national campaign on the dangers of legal and illegal drugs. The campaign, which was launched today by the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs; Pat Carey, T.D. is entitled ˜Legal or illegal highs – they are anything but safe. The campaign is seeking to raise awareness of the dangers and significant negative mental and physical health effects that can be caused by these psychoactive substances.

Along with recent legislation introduced by the Government prohibiting the sale or supply of psychoactive substances, this public awareness campaign forms an important part of tackling what has become a serious public health issue.

The campaign features a number of important messages which illustrate the ill-effects that can be caused by these substances. Legal or illegal highs can cause paranoia; impotence; kidney failure; heart problems; seizures, death or make you act like a fool – they are anything but safe. These messages will feature on radio ads, in cinemas, washrooms in bars and clubs and at festivals over the summer.

The website www.drugs.ie has been updated to include new information in relation to the campaign and legal and illegal highs including information resources for young people and parents/guardians. The HSE Drugs Helpline on 1800 459 459 is also available to support the campaign.

Launching the HSE Drugs Awareness campaign, the Minister for Community, Equality & Gaeltacht Affairs, Pat Carey, T.D. commented; “Since my appointment as Minister with responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy, I have been working with my colleagues in Government to address the issue of headshops and the psychoactive substances they sell. This Campaign forms an important element in the Government’s multi-pronged approach targeting the activities of head shops. By educating the people of the dangers of these substances and providing accurate and factual information, they will be in a better position to really consider the risks factors associated with the consumption of these substances and thus inform their actions.

Alice O’Flynn, HSE Assistant National Director for Social Inclusion, said; The risks to people’s mental and physical health as a result of taking these substances is very real. Changes in legislation have helped to limit the sale and supply of these substances however, there are always other means by which young people will come into contact with drugs whether through friends or online.

This is part of a multi-pronged approach to tackling this issue which is putting young people at risk and causing anxiety to families throughout the country. As part of this, the HSE has an important role to play in informing the public about the risks around legal and illegal highs. This campaign lets young people and parents know that legal or illegal highs are anything but safe and provides important information for them in relation to these substances. We want to ensure that information and supports are available also to parents to help them understand the dangers associated with legal and illegal drugs and how they might encourage and support their teenagers to avoid them.”

Legal or illegal highs and ˜head shop or herbal highs are names given to psychoactive substances (drugs) that are on sale in Ireland through shops that sell drug-related products (head shops, hemp shop) or over the internet. These drugs are sold as alternatives to drugs such as cannabis, ecstasy, cocaine, LSD, amphetamines and heroin.

There are several hundred types of these drugs available which include:
¢ sedatives (downers) e.g. spice, smoke, smoke plus ¢ stimulants (uppers) e.g. mephedrone, snow, blow ¢ hallucinogens (trips) e.g. trip to night ¢ aphrodisiacs (sexual stimulants) e.g. volcanic capsule, spun, Spanish fly

Some are herbal, meaning they come from a plant. Others are synthetic, meaning they are man-made from chemicals. Most are a mixture of both herbal and synthetic products.

These drugs are all psychoactive substances, which act on the central nervous system and alter how you think, feel and behave. As an adult there are a number of steps you can take to help protect young people.

Parents/guardians can inform themselves by checking out trusted sources of information such as the website www.drugs.ie, by attending information events or calling the HSE Drugs Helpline 1800 459 459. Parents are encouraged to talk to young people and share the information you have with them, discuss the dangers for their long-term health and well-being. If parents do this their children can make choices based on the facts, and an understanding of the actual dangers to physical and mental health.

· Know the facts about drugs
· Monitor credit card transactions if you fear your children may be buying drugs online · Be responsible for their safety; know where a young person is going when they leave the house and who they are with · Be around and awake when a young person comes home or where possible collect them from events · Discuss drugs openly · Be around to listen and talk to them about the issues and dangers of legal or illegal highs · Be assertive “saying˜no™ is ok if you believe a situation is not suitable· Watch out for side-effects and know your young person · Be the parent, they have lots of friends

The HSE National Drug Awareness Campaign will tie in with initiatives at community level co-ordinated by the local and regional Drugs Task Forces.

Visit: www.drugs.ie

Call: HSE Drugs Helpline 1800 459 459

Dangers of using ‘Legal or illegal highs’

Many of these drugs on sale are labelled as ˜not for human consumption, so that those selling and supplying these drugs can get around the law and avoid responsibility for any negative consequences or risks. These drugs are not tested on humans for safety. We know nothing about the medium or long-term effects of using these drugs. Some or all of them can have dangerous physical and mental side effects.

They can make you confused “ so that you will be more likely to have an accident or take dangerous risks.
They can cause anxiety, panic attacks, paranoia or even psychotic illnesses.
Many are stimulants (uppers) which may stop you sleeping, leaving you exhausted and depressed later on.
These drugs can have negative effects on mental health – people often say they feel ˜head-wrecked” after taking these drugs.
They can be toxic to humans, even ˜natural or ˜herbal” substances can cause damage such as kidney failure, coma and death.
There is an increased risk if legal or illegal highs are combined with alcohol or with any substance that causes a ˜high’; including the risk of death.
Other risks include reduced inhibitions, drowsiness, excited or paranoid states, coma, seizures, and death.
Because these highs are often new and, in many cases, their chemical make-up is constantly changing, the risks are unpredictable and are often still being assessed.
Recent legislation in Ireland regarding ˜Legal or illegal highs”

This awareness campaign is in addition to the Government’s recent legislation (Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 Amended and Criminal Justice Bill) and forms an important part in tackling this serious public health issue.

In May 2010 the Government made an Order declaring a number of substances, commonly referred to as so-called ‘legal highs’, to be controlled drugs under The Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 (Amendment), with immediate effect.

In June 2010 The General Scheme of the Criminal Justice (Psychoactive
Substances) Bill was published which provided for: the sale or supply of substances which are not specifically proscribed under the Misuse of Drugs Acts, but which have psychoactive effects, for human consumption will be a criminal offence.

The Scheme gives appropriate powers to the Garda Síochána and the Courts to intervene quickly to prevent outlets from selling these products by way of appropriate prohibition orders. The Scheme also contains full search and seizure powers for the Garda and Revenue’s Customs Service.

New psychoactive substances can quickly emerge, therefore, the Scheme provides a general criminal justice response to deal with the supply of new psychoactive substances as they emerge. The Scheme operates in addition to the Misuse of Drugs Acts controls.

The activities of head shops are being closely monitored on an ongoing basis by An Garda Siochana and Revenue’s Customs Service, with a view to ensuring that no illegal substances are being sold.