Cumbria Police are dealing with more incidents involving so-called legal high drugs, according to figures released to this programme. The force reported 22 cases last year compared to just one, five years ago.
They say substances sometimes known as party drugs are not necessarily illegal but taking them is dangerous. Campaigners say even the term 'Legal High' is misleading and say they should be called psychoactive substances.
In Cumbria there have been 61 incidents where police know or suspect that people have used the substances, since 2009.
In 2010 there were 13 incidents, but last year the figure was 22. So far this year, there have been 4 incidents where people who have used the drugs have come into contact with police.
Earlier Ian spoke to Detective Chief Superintendent Andy Slattery from Cumbria Police, and asked him what legal highs are and what are the dangers?
One of the UK’s biggest drug and alcohol charities, CRI, has warned that the UK is ‘only scratching the surface’ and underestimating the serious public health challenge posed by ‘legal high’ misuse.
The charity has taken a leading role in treating and educating young people on the dangers of taking these substances, which it calls ‘strange molecules’.
It offers support to people via its services across the UK.
Its drop-in clinics are seeing a rise of people using synthetic cannabinoids like ‘Spice’, Mephedrone, MDMA, ketamine, Poke and Euphoria. Many of these substances are freely available in shops located on the high street, as well as online.
– David Biddle, Chief Executive of CRI
“We believe that the common term of ‘legal high’ is incredibly misleading; legal does not equate to safe, and some substances which were legal have now been classified.
"Some of these substances are highly potent and can be very risky, possibly up to 10,000 times stronger than the street drugs they emulate, with tiny amounts able to trigger extreme psychoactive responses."
The number of incidents Cumbria Police is attending involving the misuse of legal highs is on the rise.
In 2009 officers dealt with just one incident, but last year that figure had risen to 22.
Incidents range from possession of a legal high, to behaviour resulting from taking a legal high.