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  1. ITV Report

'It is becoming an increasingly difficult situation' Paramedics struggling to treat users of drug Spice

The Welsh Ambulance Service has seen call outs increase by 1500%

An ITV News investigation has revealed emergency services are spending an increasing amount of time giving medical care to people who have taken the drug Spice.

As the NHS comes under increasing pressure, those on the front line say that patients who have overdosed on Spice can be aggressive, and have symptoms that are difficult to treat.

We're actually having to get the police sometimes to assist us in restraining these patients to enable us to get them up to the hospital safely, and even then they're having to be sedated in hospital so it is becoming an increasingly difficult situation.

– John McAllister, paramedic

ITV cameras spent a night with an ambulance crew in Cardiff City centre.

This footage shows the moment they were called to help someone who had used Spice.

In just three years the Welsh Ambulance Service said they have seen the number of Spice-related ambulance call-outs increase by 1500%.

31
Number of ambulance call-outs to spice related incidents in 2015-2016.
486
Number of ambulance call-outs to spice related incidents in 2017-2018.

Watch the full report:

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  • What is Spice?

Spice is a chemical that is sprayed onto dried herbs or plants. Because of how it is made the strength can vary hugely from one batch to the next.

Experts say the drug has become stronger since it became illegal two years ago. Some of the short-term side effects include seizures and vomiting.

But it is still a relatively new drug - and the long-term effects of using it are still unknown.

We don't know exactly how and why it would cause seizures, but it's possibly due to the way it changes the blood flow.

There's a lot of information about the blood flow to the heart being reduced when people are using spice, and that could potentially lead to heart attacks.

Chronic use can also cause kidney damage, so you could end up with people who have long-term kidney problems. But unfortunately with spice you're addicted to it as quickly as you would be to a drug like heroin.

– Dr Mohan de Silva, Kaleidoscope Project
'James' stopped smoking spice two years ago.

'James' - not his real name - lives in Carmarthenshire. He started smoking Spice after his partner took his own life.

He stopped using it two years following an overdose - but still has regular seizures.

I was in hospital for about seven days on a drip trying to get me flushed out. I had kidney failure and brain damage because of it. It was a horrible experience.

I now suffer with seizures because of it.

It's slowly progressed so it's not as bad now but it's been over two years since I smoked it and I'm still feeling the repercussions of it.

– 'James'

For Christina, Spice is a way of life. She said it is a popular drug among the homeless community because it is strong and cheap.

She has been smoking it for four years, and said she has seen it affect people in different ways.

See more on this investigation by Hannah Gamlin on Wales at Six tonight.