Select your location for up-to-date news and information in your local area My Area
Girl sitting in the street

‘Legal highs’: Just the facts

'Legal highs' or Spice are New Psychoactive Substances (NPS)

These include Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas), Bath Salts and Benzodiazepines.

The Law:

‘Legal highs’ are illegal to supply or sell for the use of recreational consumption under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016.

What are they?

These drugs may be found in powder, tablet, liquid, smoking mixture or capsule form.

As their strength, side-effects and what happens when they’re mixed with alcohol or other drugs is unknown, they are very dangerous.

The packet the drugs come in may have a list of ingredients, but there’s no guarantee that these ingredients are actually inside.

Lots of these drugs are sold under brand names like ‘Spice’ or ‘Mamba’. These drugs have been linked to poisoning, emergency visits to hospital and much more serious problems.

The effects

Almost every new psychoactive drug or ‘legal high’ has effects which fall into one of these four categories:

  • Stimulants
  • ‘Downers’ or sedatives
  • Psychedelics or hallucinogens
  • Synthetic cannabinoids


Stimulants can make you feel:

– Over-confident

– Paranoid

– Anxious

All of these effects could lead you to put your own safety at risk.

This type of drug also isn’t good for your heart, nervous system or immune system.

Downers or Sedatives

Downers or sedatives can:

– Lower your concentration levels

– Slow down your reactions and make you feel very tired

– Make you become quite forgetful

– Make you unsteady on your feet, making you more likely to have an accident

– Lead to unconsciousness, coma and even death if you take it at the same time as drinking alcohol or taking other drugs

Psychedelics or hallucinogens

This type of drug can lead to:

– Confusion

– Panic attacks

– Hallucinations

– Your judgement being affected, increasing the chances of you doing something out of the ordinary, and your behaviour can become erratic

Synthetic cannabinoids

If taken in large doses, this type of drug can lead to severe and even life threatening problems. They can also:

– Increase the risk of you having a seizure

– Make your heart beat faster than it should

– Increase your blood pressure

– Make you very hot and sweaty

– Make you become very agitated

– Make you feel very pumped up

How to get help

If you have any more questions on this area or would like to speak to somebody about this topic, have a look at the links or search for your local services in the blue box below. Alternatively you can always contact your school nurse.

Cross Hatch

Find help in your local area

Find help in your local area

Find out what services are available to you in your area. Remember your school nurse is always there to give you confidential help and support.

Find help in your local area