1. ITV Report

Drugs workers warn of dangers around former legal high 'spice'

Spice is a synthetic drug which mimics cannabis, but in reality is much stronger. Photo: ITV News

Drugs workers in the South West are warning of the dangers around taking former legal high 'spice'.

There has been an increase in people needing treatment at A and E departments after taking the extremely addictive drug.

Spice is a synthetic drug which mimics cannabis, but in reality is much stronger.

Spice is often mixed with other substances. Credit: ITV West Country

Spice was legal until a change in the law last year.

Drugs workers say it is probably bought on the dark web and distributed across cities to be taken by street users.

Some people refer to spice as 'the zombie drug' because side effects can include making people appear to freeze up.

Spice has noticeable side affects which are clear to others. Credit: ITV West Country

Devon and Cornwall Police say the rise in people taking spice should not be mistaken for an increase in overall drug use in the area.

We've been dealing here with individuals for drug use for some time. Some of them are very well known to us. Many of them, although they were using drugs were still able to function and it perhaps wasn't so obvious to the community that the drug activity was taking place. I wouldn't necessarily say that drug use is on the up here, I think it's simply a case that the drug of choice for some is now spice and the physical effects of spice are so obvious that people can't really ignore it.

– Insp Simon Jenkinson, Devon & Cornwall Police

Drug charities say spice is often mixed with other substances before being sold, meaning users cannot be sure exactly what they are taking.

Bristol Drugs Project says many spice users take the drug to cope with other issues in their lives.

This is a small group of people who are often street homeless who are using extreme substances to deal with the very difficult reality of their day to day life, and if they weren't using spice they're likely to be drinking more and using a whole range of pills and potions.

– Maggie Telfer, Chief Executive, Bristol Drugs Project

For more information about spice, you can visit the Talk to Frank website or HMP Bristol's downloadable guide.