The fight against legal highs.

Deeply concerned about the negative impact that psychoactive substances (legal highs) were having on our community, the Wise Group had to act.

After seeing the effect of synthetic cannabis on the local Hamilton East community, the Wise Group took action.

A number of our mental health and addictions teams reported a noticeable increase in the number of service users needing additional support due to the effects of using new psychoactive substances.

We know that synthetic cannabinoids can trigger psychosis, especially in vulnerable people and destabilise a previously well managed psychosis. The combination of legal highs with prescription medicines and/or other substances can also complicate diagnosis and treatment of symptoms. Therefore, for vulnerable populations, including people with existing mental health or addiction issues, the use of psychoactive substances is risky.

The Wise Group rallied the Hamilton East community and by mid-December 2014 had established a working group, created a submissions template and website and distributed posters to raise awareness of the issue and lobby the Hamilton City Council to adopt the policy to restrict legal high sellers in the city. In March 2014 the policy was adopted and the Psychoactive Substances Authority suspended the licences of all psychoactive substance retailers in Hamilton.

The Wise Group continues to monitor this issue and support the people using our services to stop using these substances. www.enough.org.nz

Published on: 11 March 2014