THE woman raising awareness in city schools about the problems of lethal legal highs says it is essential teachers know how dangerous they are.
Portsmouth substance misuse worker Gail Lennan is leading the council’s drive to educate staff so they can spot the substances and deter pupils from getting their hands on them.
It’s not necessarily those attending school that have the issues - it’s those who don’t attend as much as they should.Portsmouth substance misuse worker Gail Lennan
It is an initiative backed by The News as part of its Legal Highs: Only Lows campaign, which seeks a complete ban on the production, distribution, supply and sale of legal highs.
We’re also raising awareness of how lethal the drugs are, especially among teenagers, and want to see them banned in public.
Speaking to The News ahead of a teacher training session yesterday, Ms Lennan said: ‘There is an issue with some young people in our schools because these substances are legal, and cheap, and that’s across the city.
‘It’s not necessarily those attending school who have the issues, it’s those who don’t attend.
‘Our aim is making professionals aware about what the legal highs are and what they are not.
‘We need to get away from some of the myths and ensure teachers walk away with a better understanding of the impact of taking these substances.
‘Part of this is about saying we need to stop saying, “legal highs”. People are getting the message that legal means it’s okay to use them but actually, they’re not safe.
‘We need to ensure they are known as new psychoactive substances.’
Ms Lennan believes Portsmouth has a bigger problem with legal highs compared with surrounding areas.
She said: ‘I think at the moment, we do, because we are a small city – an island city.
‘It’s very densely populated and we have a number of shops for such a small area.
‘Five to six years ago, we heard of people taking them but we didn’t really know much about them.
‘Three to four years ago, they became the third choice of drug.
‘Then two years ago they became the only substance people would use in some instances.’
Pubs and clubs in the area are also being sent posters, banners and leaflets raising awareness.