Crime Survey for England and Wales highlights there is a growing use of legal highs, says Swanswell

26 July 2013

Swanswell welcomes a new report from the Home Office, which has recognised that legal highs are a growing problem in England and Wales by including additional questions relating to the ‘legal highs’ nitrous oxide and salvia in their drug misuse crime survey for England and Wales 2012-2013.

The national recovery charity, which wants to achieve a society free from problem alcohol and drug use, is responding to the Drug Misuse: Findings from the 2012 to 2013 Crime Survey for England and Wales, issued by the Home Office.

According to the report, this is the first year that questions have been added on last year’s use of the ‘legal highs’ salvia and nitrous oxide.

The report states that 2.0% of adults aged 16-59 had taken nitrous oxide in the last year and 0.3% of adults aged 16-59 had taken salvia in the last year. For young adults, aged 16-24, 6.1% had taken nitrous oxide in the last year and 1.1% had taken salvia in the last year.

These figures show that young people are most at risk from the rising numbers of ‘legal highs’ that are developing throughout the UK and Swanswell has experienced similar rises in their young persons substance misuse treatment service.

Jo Woods, Swanswell Regional Development Manager, said: ‘We recognise there is a need to respond to the increase in the ‘legal high’ use that we are seeing. We’ve noted an increase in ‘legal highs’ in both our young persons and adult treatment  services in Leicestershire and Rutland but more significantly in our young persons service.

'It is worrying that the report shows there is a disproportionate number of people aged between 16 and 24 taking these types of drugs compared to the overall number of 16-59 year olds using legal highs.

'Referrals to the young persons service for those with a legal high as their primary substance of abuse increased by 10.17% from 4.88% in 2011-2012 to 15.05% in 2012-2013. This is compared to an increase in our adults service from 3.61% in 2011-2012 to 8.05% in 2012-2013.

'Referrals where a legal high is being used increased shockingly by 33.87% from 4.88% in 2011-2012 to 38.75% in 2012-2013.

'For the adult service the increase went from 4.81% in 2011-2012 to 13.04% in 2012-2013. We welcome this report and are pleased to see the Home Office recognising the developing problem.

'Ultimately, substance misuse is not something that any government, organisation or individual can solve on their own – we all have a part to play.’

Swanswell is currently supporting a campaign led by the Leicestershire and Rutland Substance Misuse Strategic Team called ‘Legal highs, lethal lows’, which highlights the risks of recreational drug use and links to health risks in isolation or combined with alcohol.

To find out more about the ‘Legal highs, lethal lows’ campaign, visit www.legalhighslethallows.co.uk or for more information about Swanswell and the services it provides, visit www.swanswell.org.

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