The purpose of this research was to gain an insight into legal highs usage among young people in England and Wales.
New psychoactive substances (NPS) refers to newly available drugs that mimic the effects of drugs such as cannabis, ecstasy and powder cocaine, which may or may not be legal to buy but are often referred to as legal highs.
With the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 set to come into force in May 2016, this research seeks to address this gap in knowledge by investigating the motivations that young people have for using legal highs and the effect the Act will have on usage.
The purpose of this research is to give a voice to young people, all of whom have had different experiences of legal highs, to examine the potential effects of the legislation change and understand what measures they believe could be introduced to help mitigate the harms caused by some legal highs.
While the research found that the blanket ban will likely reduce usage, in order to affect real behavioural change the Government must focus on the information, advice and support that is available to young people who may be experiencing harms associated with legal highs.
Currently young people are ill-informed and unprepared for the very real risks that are associated with many legal highs. Throughout the research few young people had positive experiences to report of the harder end of legal highs, but still young people are continuing to experiment with substances akin to Heroin, without prior knowledge.
The full findings from this research are set out in The Big Ban Theory report.
If you want to find out more about this research or if you have a query please contact our Policy Team on firstname.lastname@example.org