Drug addiction commonly refers to illegal drugs such as cannabis or heroin. However, a growing number of people are turning to so-called “legal highs” because these are readily available, cheap, and “legal”. The problem with legal highs, or new psychoactive substances as they are also known, is that it is impossible to tell what is in the substances. They are man-made and created to mimic the effects of various illegal drugs.
Legal highs are extremely dangerous and have been linked to numerous deaths in the UK. The Government has proposed a ban on all psychoactive substances, with the exception of alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine. This ban was already due to be in place but has been pushed back until May (2016) because of concerns about how effective it will prove to be in tackling the issue.
Meanwhile, Dr Andy Ball from the Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust has warned of a growing threat of a specific former legal high, “Black Mamba”. Dr Ball has said that the now-banned synthetic cannabis is being favoured by street drinkers and illegal drug users because it is so strong and cheap.
Police officers from Leicester have spoken out about the dangers of Black Mamba and say that those who are using it have been displaying signs of severe paranoia and distress. Just last month a man collapsed in the city centre and later died, and there is speculation that he smoked Black Mamba in the moments before he collapsed.
Dr Ball said, ‘Every single drug user has heard of Black Mamba, and they will tell you that, of all the drugs out there, it’s the one with the biggest reputation for being dangerous. Unfortunately, a lot of the traditional drug users have started to use it. It’s also a problem in the prisons.’
He added that there had been reports that the drug is now readily available on the street from dealers instead of just being available online or in “head” shops. He said, ‘I don’t remember any of the other new psychoactive substances being sold by street dealers before, and that is just another indication of its potency’
Dr Ball also pointed out that the price of Black Mamba may be another reason it is so popular. In comparison to a similar amount of cannabis that would cost £25, users can get their hands on Black Mamba for just £10.
A common concern among medical professionals in terms of new psychoactive substances is the fact that users just do not know what these substances contain. According to Dr Ball, ‘One packet of Black Mamba can be entirely different from another in terms of its potency and, we understand, can contain opiates.’
In addition, there is a marked difference between cannabis and synthetic versions such as Black Mamba in that the synthetic version can result in extreme withdrawal symptoms should the user try to quit.
Class B Drug
Although Black Mamba can no longer be classed as a “legal high”, it continues to be hugely popular. The now Class B drug has been linked to a growing number of call outs by Leicester paramedics. Many individuals are falling ill after smoking the drug due to its potency.
As well as the obvious health consequences of taking the drug, there is the risk of addiction, which can have a serious impact on lives. Drug addiction is an illness that changes the way the brain functions. Those affected will become obsessed with the drug to the point where nothing else in their lives matter. They will become consumed by their need to have it and will do almost anything to get their next fix.