THE DANGER of legal highs is being highlighted by the Hinckley & Bosworth Community Safety Partnership after a number of used canisters of nitrous oxide, which is also known as ‘laughing gas’ or ‘hippy crack’, have been found discarded in the borough.
Since April this year, more than 250 empty canisters have been recovered from recreation grounds and jitties around Hinckley, Burbage, Earl Shilton and Ratby by the Borough Council’s street cleaning crews. This has now prompted a fear that use of ‘legal highs’ is on the increase.
The concern follows the recent death of a teenager in south London, who reportedly suffered a heart attack after drinking alcohol and inhaling nitrous oxide at a party.
So-called ‘legal highs’, also known as New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), are synthetic substances designed by chemists to have a similar effect as illegal drugs. They are designed in a way to get around the legislation, hence the term ‘legal highs’. However, it is a misleading term as some of these substances do contain illegal drugs, as well as chemicals that are highly dangerous and not suitable for human use.
With nitrous oxide, the gas is dangerous when it’s inhaled because it removes the oxygen from the lungs. This can cause a loss of blood pressure, unconsciousness or a heart attack. And mixing alcohol with nitrous oxide can be fatal.
In addition, prolonged exposure may also result in bone marrow suppression and poisoning of the central nervous system.
Deaths from ‘legal highs’ rose from 10 in 2009 to at least 68 in 2012.
Starting next month, the council’s Community Safety team, in partnership with Endeavour, will be offering ‘legal highs’ workshops to young people within schools across the borough, aiming it at Year 9s (13-14 year olds).
Councillor Chris Boothby, Chair of the Community Safety Partnership and Executive Member Responsible for Community Safety and Housing, said: “Deaths from legal highs are increasing nationally, so we want to make sure young people in our borough have the information they need to make informed choices and keep themselves safe.”
To report any finds of silver canisters or any other evidence of usage contact Street Scene at the council on 01455 238141.