Warks paramedics issue legal highs warning - The Rugby Observer

Warks paramedics issue legal highs warning

Rugby Editorial 28th Aug, 2015 Updated: 27th Oct, 2016   0

LEGAL highs may lead to some killer lows, West Midlands Ambulance Service has warned.

Ambulance staff are dealing with increasing numbers of patients who have taken legal highs without understanding the potential consequences.

Legal highs such as Black Mamba, Pandora’s Box, Ivory Wave and Annihilation are often substances that mimic the effects of controlled drugs, although they have had their chemical structures changed.

While the attractions are clear, the downsides are less well known. Side effects including seizures, comas and long term illnesses can occur – and in some cases, even lead to death.

Murray McGregor, Head of Communications for WMAS said: “In the vast majority of cases the caller doesn’t mention that the patient has taken a ‘legal high’ or gives us the name of the substance when they dial 999. They’ll say the patient has been having a seizure, convulsions, is unconscious or whatever and it is only once the crew arrive that they see the packet or their mates ‘fess up’.

“It’s impossible to say why that is – whether it’s because they are worried that someone will find out, aren’t sure of the legality or whatever, who knows.”

Over 100 emergency calls to 999 explicitly mentioned Black Mamba, but Mr McGregor says this is ‘the tip of the iceberg’ in relation to the number of people who have taken a legal high and ended up dialling 999.

Paramedic Cameron McVittie, who has first hand experience of these call-outs, said: “In some cases, side effects are unknown due to little testing being done on them. We’re seeing lots of people who have smoked or even eaten Black Mamba. The fact that it states on packets ‘not for human consumption’ doesn’t seem to matter – better take the advice.”

Fellow paramedic Jack Lewis added: “One of the sickest patients I’ve been to took a legal high. They may be “legal” but they are so dangerous.

“We see cases where patients have got an increased heart rate; are feeling on edge or restless; sometimes they are feeling tired or drowsy; feeling sick; having hallucinations and panic attacks as well as convulsions. There is also now evidence that their use may increase the risk of later developing psychotic illnesses including schizophrenia.”

Visit www.talktofrank.com for more about the pros and cons of legal highs.

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