Former legal highs user shares negative experience to deter teenagers from experimenting

From left, Angelica Powlesland from Big World Impact, Lynne Meechan from the Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner's office, Toby Matthews of Leigh Park, who had a bad experience five months ago after taking legal highs and Gabrielle Day, a young people volunteer''Picture: Sarah Standing (151709-7670)
From left, Angelica Powlesland from Big World Impact, Lynne Meechan from the Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner's office, Toby Matthews of Leigh Park, who had a bad experience five months ago after taking legal highs and Gabrielle Day, a young people volunteer''Picture: Sarah Standing (151709-7670)
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  • Workshop held as part of week-long campaign
  • Presentation on dangers of legal highs given
  • Former user talks about the dangers
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AFTER taking legal highs once Toby Matthews ended up in hospital and he has since vowed never to take them again.

The 22-year-old yesterday shared his story with teenagers as part of a workshop to deter people from using the so-called legal highs.

The legal high was 10 times worse compared to anything else I had taken and would never do it again

Toby Matthews, ex-legal highs user

Toby, of Milbrook Drive, Leigh Park, said: ‘I took a legal high once and I went into a different world and it was awful.

‘I couldn’t remember how I was getting to different places – one minute I was lying on the floor, then in an ambulance and then in hospital.

‘I couldn’t lift my head and my head felt like it was exploding.

‘The legal high was 10 times worse compared to anything else I had taken and would never do it again.

‘That’s the message I passed on at this meeting.’

The workshop took place at the Leigh Park Community Centre, in Dunsbury Way, and was part of Hampshire’s police and crime commissioner Simon Hayes week-long campaign called Lethal Highs with the Youth Commission.

It comes just weeks after The News launched its own campaign to combat the drugs, which are linked to multiple deaths. Currently legal highs can be banned but creators change their chemical make-up, thwarting any prohibition.

A bill is going through parliament aimed at tighter regulation.

Caitlyn Stewart, 11, of Leigh Park, was one of the youngsters at the workshop.

She said: ‘You should never take drugs and I definitely won’t be.

‘Hearing Toby’s story makes me think legal highs are dangerous and you should not use them.’

During the hour-session, videos were played to explain the dangers of legal highs and where to get more information.

And an exercise to demonstrate how hard it is to tell what might be in a legal high drug was also shown.

Lynne Meechan, project co-ordinator, said: ‘Legal highs are not safe and that’s what we showed people.

‘I had pots of things like flour, sugar and sherbert and asked the teens to make a mix. Then I asked if they could replicate it exactly but they couldn’t.

‘The feedback from the session was positive.’