Advice for users as legal highs ban kicks in

Cupid Shop owner Carl Lapham outside his Princes St, Dunedin, shop yesterday that sells legal highs. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Cupid Shop owner Carl Lapham outside his Princes St, Dunedin, shop yesterday that sells legal highs. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
With legal highs expected to be banned from early tomorrow, the Southern District Health Board is giving advice about ways to cope with impending withdrawal symptoms.

Community Alcohol and Drug Service medical director Dr Gavin Cape said regular users of legal highs might only feel ''normal'' on the drug and, when they stopped using, their body and brain had to adjust.

The withdrawal was the brain getting used to working ''normally'' again without the drug, Dr Cape said.

Most users would have mild, or little withdrawal symptoms for a few days, such as anxiety, disturbed sleep, irritability, poor concentration, cravings, nausea, aches and little appetite.

The advice to deal with withdrawals included gentle exercise, drinking plenty of water and to take it easy, knowing it was a natural response and would end soon.

People with more severe withdrawal symptoms, such as severe vomiting, diarrhoea, shakes and tremor, racing or irregular heartbeat or thoughts of self-harm should call their doctor.

If users hallucinated, had delusions and psychosis, seizures or loss of consciousness they should seek emergency medical attention.

A 30-year-old synthetic cannabis smoker, of South Dunedin, who did not want to be named for fear he would lose visitation rights to his daughter, said he smoked legal highs to replace methamphetamine.

''It's the same buzz ... I used to be a heavy meth smoker until this [legal highs] came along; it got me off a lot of other drugs.''

When legal highs were banned, he would return to those drugs, including methamphetamine, which were readily available in Dunedin, he said.

He had briefly given up smoking synthetic legal highs before and there was no easy way to detox.

''You've just got to tough it out.''

Cupid Shop owner Carl Lapham said about 95% of his customers yesterday were buying legal highs and many were stockpiling as much as they could afford.

The sale of legal highs had already gone ''underground'' in Dunedin and customers had reported people selling legal highs from a shoebox in the Octagon at the weekend, he said.

A Dunedin police spokeswoman said police were unaware of those claims, but if police received any information about such happenings it would be followed up.

Health Ministry spokesman Kevin McCarthy said although the amended Bill had not yet been passed, it was expected to be operative from 12.01am tomorrow.

shawn.mcavinue@odt.co.nz

 


Where to get help

• The Alcohol Drug Helpline: 0800 787-797.

• The Addictions Treatment Directory: www.adanz.org.nz

• Home-treatment-based Detox Service: 476-6063.


 

Ryall approved the mind-altering drug use

So Ryall was the Minister of non-accountability for approving the use (call it testing on humans?) of these degenerate drugs. Just another National Minister who screwed-up - bigtime. What a House of cards National are turning into.

Resign

Trev: And there's the point. A sensible law - that "harmless" drugs should be legal - has been compromised by a Minister of Health who unwisely grandfathered in untested drugs. There's your accountability. The minister's failure here has caused a public health problem. He should resign.

Who approved the drugs?

Blackbird: How about."Testing already completed on humans - results prove drugs dangerous". "Why test on animals when drug results already known ?" The whole saga begs the question: Who said that the 41 drugs were "safe" enough to allow sale to humans? What testing was done to prove they were safe? Where is the accountability for all the nonsense?   

It's about what you can test for

Blackbird got it right, "predicting there will soon be underground sales, but I see that has already happened." 
These highs gained popularity so quickly because they were "legal", not because they were a more enjoyable high than marijuana.  Unfortunately, among their other undesirable qualities they appear to be addictive to an infinitely greater degree than marijuana. 
The majority of users, those who use it moderately or seldom, will if possible probably return to using marijuana.  Since both are now illegal why choose the less enjoyable product?  Well, "why" is because until there are the same workplace drug tests for ex-legal highs as there are for herb many people will probably decide to go with the one they can't be fired for - for showing positive 3 weeks after they had a smoke. 
Bad news for society in general, good news for the gangs.  Tough aye, politicians can't get it right all the time!

Predictable muddle

This is turning into a predicatible muddle. I was going to leave a comment predicting there will soon be underground sales, but I see that has already happened. So I'll offer some other headlines to look forward to;

"Legal highs back as Bath Salts", "Animal Testing ban makes legal high testing quicker, cheaper and easier", "Cat and Mouse game continues - new highs on sale", "Testing passed - legal highs back"

Never mind, it's an election year and that's silly season for politicians. They could hardly pass up a chance to kick this convienient football.

A & E

DHBs are expecting a high demand for services, according to Waitemata DHB on Morning Report, RNZ. Is Dr Cape recommending A & E for acute withdrawal? [Abridged]

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