New government drugs strategy gets support

Legal highs were banned in May 2016.
Legal highs were banned in May 2016.
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A NEW government strategy to crack down on former ‘legal highs’ has been welcomed.

The strategy aims to restrict supply and reduce demand, particularly in areas where misuse is high.

In 2015, The News ran a campaign demanding action against legal highs, which were eventually banned in 2016.

Jason Horsley, director of public health at Portsmouth City Council, added: ‘I’m pleased to see support at a national level to recognise this important area and to help reduce substance misuse.

‘I particularly welcome the recognition in this strategy that services to help people with addiction problems have to be able to engage people to be effective, and that recovery is a complex and ongoing process requiring support to turn around damaged lives.

‘It would be helpful if the government could review the way this much needed work is resourced, since it will be very challenging to implement the sensible recommendations this strategy makes while local authority budgets are under such pressure.

‘Work in this area saves a range of related costs to society in terms of a reduction in drug-related crime, dealing with the costs of homelessness and healthcare needs, and the wider costs associated with managing family breakdowns.’

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage says that the long-term goal is to help rehabilitate those addicted to legal highs and get them back into the world.

She explained: ‘It is about limiting supply and cutting demand, but it is also about supporting people who are in recovery.

‘We will work alongside as many services as we can to improve reporting practices for recovery – there is a recognition that it is not just about the drug addiction itself, because a support network has to be in place.’

Ms Dinenage believes that the crackdown on legal highs will have a major impact in Gosport.

She said: ‘We had one man in Gosport die from taking illegal highs – people don’t always understand how dangerous they can be, so we were really pleased when the bill came through.’

Independent Portsmouth city councillor Paul Godier said: ‘At the beginning of the campaign, most of it was about getting the professionals to get more involved.

‘I think they could have done more at the beginning, because when we finally banned the sale of illegal highs people already had bundles of it in stock.’

Cllr Godier says that educating those who are vulnerable to psychotic substances is the answer to its eradication.

He said: ‘My stance is that educating people is the way forward.

‘We must start working with people in schools, prisons and out on the streets – one positive is that it is starting to become uncool in schools, so the message is starting to get out there.’

Statistics from the Home Office reveal that although less than one in 10 adults in England and Wales now take drugs, the number of drug-related deaths have still risen.

The strategy, which has been posted online by the government, hopes to build upon the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016, as it aims to eradicate the availability of psychoactive substances.