Psychoactive Substances


What are Psychoactive Substances?

  • They are normally sold as powders, pills, capsules or reefers. The powders can range from white to brown to yellow in colour and from flourlike to little crystals in consistency. The pills and capsules can range in size, shape and colour. They tend to besnorted, swallowed or smoked but there have been reports of some people injecting them. They are often sold in colourful packets with various designs on the front which target young people. The packets carry warnings such as, ‘NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION’, ‘PLANT FOOD’, BATH SALTS’ and ‘RESEARCH CHEMICALS’
  • The warnings are put on the packets by sellers so that they can’t be held legally responsible if people become ill or die from taking them. It also allows them to bypass food and drug regulations.
  • They can be both physically and psychologically addictive. This addiction is similar to that of smoking. Your brain could crave the chemicals and make you feel like you should take it to fit in socially or under pressure from other people.

The Law

  • Recent changes to the law now mean that new psychoactive substances (NPS), previously known as ‘legal highs’, are now illegal to supply or import. If you break the law you could face up to a seven year prison sentence.

The Risks

You never know what these drugs contain or their strength.

  • Users have suffered seizures, mental health issues, brain damage, heart problems and a number of people have died after taking new psychoactive substances.
  • If you take or share these drugs with your friends, you are putting your own and their lives in danger. 

Types of Psychoactive Substances

  • Stimulants (i.e.‘Gocaine’): Effects include overconfidence and being uninhibited. They can induce feelings of anxiety, panic, confusion, paranoia and psychosis and can strain your heart and nervous system. They may give your immune system a battering so you might get more colds, flu and sore throats. You may feel low after you stop using them.
  • ‘Downers’ or sedatives such as ‘Spice’ or cannabinoids: They can make you feel lethargic, or forgetful, and can make you physically unsteady and at risk of accidents. They may cause unconsciousness, a coma and death, particularly when mixed with alcohol and/or with other ‘downer’ drugs. People can feel anxious after taking ‘downers’, and suffer severe withdrawal.
  •  Psychedelics or hallucinogens (i.e. ‘Mind Benders’ or ‘Space Cadets’): Make you hallucinate, have erratic behaviour, and feel like your mind and body are separated. They could put you at risk of acting carelessly and dangerously.

Safety Advice

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