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A legal substance does not equal a safe substance

As we launch our new Legal Highs Awareness training course, Carole Fox of Sifa Fireside looks at this issue which is having an increasing impact on homelessness services and the people they support. As a sector, what can we do to address it?

As an agency experienced in supporting people with complex needs as a result of alcohol, substance misuse and mental health issues, our team have the skills to address certain types of behaviour. However, around two years ago we began to notice a distinct change in the behaviour of the people accessing our service.

From chatting with clients it started to emerge that this pronounced change was down to the use of ‘legal highs’. This became even more of an issue when those who had traditionally used Class A substances and/or alcohol began to combine legal and illegal substances.

What are ‘legal highs’?

These substances combine a range of chemicals that produce effects similar to illegal drugs like ecstasy, cocaine and marijuana. They are often marketed as plant food or bath salts, and the wide range of ingredients used means it is almost impossible for users to know exactly what they are taking and the damage it may cause.

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