"Legal High" Death Numbers Exaggerated by Common Substance Abusers

By Gary Cutlack on at

The number of people offing themselves by getting carried away with the paint-stripper hybrids has been exaggerated, according to former government drug advisers, who suggest "legal highs" aren't perhaps as dangerous as they're currently portrayed.

The often cited suggestion that deaths from legal highs have rocketed by around 600 per cent over the last five years is wrong, say Prof David Nutt and Dr Les King, who claim that experiments with other illegal chemicals are actually responsible for many of the deaths. The former policy advisers reckon just 11 of the 68 legal high deaths listed by the National Programme on Substance Abuse Deaths are from users taking drugs actually classified as legal highs.

The NPSAD appears to agree with the suggestions, explaining: "Unfortunately, there is neither a universal definition of novel psychoactive substances (NPS) nor publicly available list of such drugs for researchers to work from." [Guardian]

Image credit: Frank