County Council leads way with legal highs survey

Bucks Free Press: County Council leads way with legal highs survey County Council leads way with legal highs survey

BUCKINGHAMSHIRE County Council is at the forefront of the UK's first national survey on the controversial 'legal high' substances.

Teaming up with the Centre for Drug Misuse Researchin Glasgow, the survey was launched this month to take a look at attitudes tows substances that mimick, for instance, cocaine, cannabis, ecstasy or LSD.

Many such products are being sold like common merchandise because they are not controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act - there is simply not enough research available about them to base a decision on.

For this reason, the Centre for Drug Misuse Research in Glasgow set out to team up with another body to gather information about people’s experiences and views on legal highs within the UK.

Buckinghamshire County Council won the tender based on a criteria of specialist resources and funding offered by the County Council's Drug and Alcohol Action Team (DAAT).

Graham Skeggs at Bucks County Council said: "The survey will give Bucks a really good snapshot of what's going on in our area, as well as providing a sound benchmark to compare against other counties.

"As an online survey, the cost of doing it on a national level will be no more than if it were a regional survey, and the benefits reaped will be far more useful"

He went on to explain that the data would be more qualitative and give invaluable insight to how and why people were using these substances. The findings will be used to improve services in Buckinghamshire as well as to inform and improve drug policy across the UK.

The number of legal-high deaths have soared as the increasingly drug-savvy black market continues to exploit loop-holes in drug policy. There was a 600 per cent increase in the number of deaths associated with legal substances in England between 2009 and 2012, whilst in Scotland there was a 400 per cent increase between 2010 and 2012.

There are now in excess of 300 New Psychoactive Substances - 'legal highs' - being used with new drugs being developed and marketed on a weekly basis.

Dr Christopher Russell, who designed the survey, said: "The My Legal High Survey gives people in the UK their first opportunity to share their views and experiences of legal highs in a secure, confidential, anonymous, non-judgemental online survey. People can be take the survey in their own time, wherever and whenever they like."

To take part in the My Legal Highs survey, visit www.mylegalhigh.org

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