What are new psychoactive substances?
New psychoactive substances – often incorrectly called legal highs – contain one or more chemical substances which produce similar effects to illegal drugs (like cocaine, cannabis and ecstasy).
Although some of these so-called ‘legal highs’ have been legal in the past, many are currently illegal. And it’s important to realise that when the Psychoactive Substances Act comes into effect in spring 2016, none of these drugs will be legal to produce, supply, or import (even for personal use) for human consumption.
New psychoactive substances might sound like an awkward term, but it’s more accurate than legal highs. You’ll still hear people talking about legal highs, and since it’s a widely understood term, you might still find it used on this site. But they’re all illegal when the new law comes into effect.
There’s not enough known about many of these drugs to know about their potency, their effects on people, or what happens when they’re used with other substances or alcohol' The packaging might describe a list of ingredients but you can’t be sure that this is what’s inside. So you can’t really be sure what you’ve bought or been given, or what effect it’s likely to have on you or your friends. Many NPS are sold under brand names like ‘Clockwork Orange’, ‘Bliss’, ‘Mary Jane’ and some have been linked to poisoning, emergency hospital admissions and, in some cases deaths.
The main effects of almost all psychoactive drugs, can be described using four main categories:
- ‘downers’ or sedatives
- psychedelics or hallucinogens
- synthetic cannabinoids
To find out more about the Act follow this link