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Legal High Addiction Epidemic Creating ‘Walking Dead’

Former legal highs, or new psychoactive substances as they were also known, were banned in May 2016 after being linked to a number of deaths of young people. These substances were popular with teenagers and young adults who were attracted to the label of ‘legal’, many of them not realising that what they were ingesting was actually extremely dangerous and capable of causing poor health, premature death, and a legal high addiction.

It would now appear that since the blanket ban imposed by the government, legal high addiction has not gone away. In fact, the sale of these substances has simply moved ‘underground’, and many are struggling to cope with addictions that are destroying their lives; according to journalist Andrew Malone in an article for the Daily Mail, ‘turning users into the living dead in minutes’.

Powerful Drug

Malone wrote about how he witnessed users stumbling forward with their arms stretched outwards and their faces filled with a ‘terrible vacancy’ on the streets of Manchester recently. He said that others were slumped forwards while some looked as though they were unconscious while still standing upright. Even more were spotted slumped in doorways or lying unconscious on the streets.

These drug users all have one thing in common – a legal high addiction to a powerful drug known as ‘spice’. Spice is a synthetic cannabinoid that was popular before the legal high ban came into force, but the strain that has hit the streets recently is extremely potent, and experts are warning of a spice epidemic resulting in increasing ‘crime and casualties’. Emergency services and police are struggling to deal with the effects of this drug.

An expert on the drug, Robert Ralphs from the University of Manchester, said that ‘[spice] has the physically addictive qualities of heroin and the psychologically addictive qualities of crack.’


The spice crisis was highlighted in recent days after a Manchester office worker posted video footage of the devastation the drug is causing on the streets of the city. This followed a bus driver in Wrexham posting photos of spice users who congregate at the bus station every day to use.

With calls for spice to be reclassified as a Class A drug, Malone admits he was sceptical about the claims regarding the dangers of the drug. He said he found it hard to believe that a substance initially created as a ‘safe’ alternative to Class B drug cannabis could cause the devastation being reported.

However, on arrival at Manchester, he admits the claims are in no way exaggerated. He said within minutes of his arrival it was clear that the drug has become highly dangerous and is resulting in a zombie-like effect among many people throughout the city.


Malone said that he witnessed users smoking the drug on benches and within minutes they became catatonic. He spoke to one user named Carl who is struggling with a legal high addiction and who admits that he developed his addiction after first buying the drug in a head shop a few years ago. Carl said, “It’s awful to come off it — you rattle. I’ve tried to get off it, but it’s harder than gear [heroin]. I smoke this because it’s better for me than injecting with needles — better for my health. I’m starting to feel woozy. I can feel all my problems going away.”

Readily Available

Despite banning spice and other synthetic drugs, the demand had remained high due to the number of people who were already affected by legal high addiction when the ban came into force. The drug is still readily available, but now drug dealers sell it instead of head shops. The fact that the drug is so cheap to produce locally has made it far less risky than importing hard drugs such as heroin or cocaine; this has made it an attractive option for dealers.

Dealers simply spray plant materials with synthetic chemicals, which unfortunately are much more powerful than regular cannabis. In fact, some experts have compared one spice joint with smoking one hundred cannabis joints. The powerful effects, coupled with the low prices, have made spice a popular choice with drug users.

Proper Epidemic

Malone spoke to Julie Boyle who works at Lifeshare, a homeless charity. Ms Boyle has worked for several years with drug users but is appalled at the effects of spice. She said, “It’s horrible stuff — a proper epidemic. I’ve seen people frothing at the mouth and passing out. When some people take it, it’s like someone has pressed pause on the TV. They freeze into one position. In the city centre are people like the walking dead. You wouldn’t even know they were alive. They don’t know where they are. I have never seen anything like this.”

She added that those who take the drug could quickly develop a legal high addiction in just three days. She agrees with claims that around ninety-five per cent of the 3,200 homeless people in Manchester are taking the drug. With the epidemic spreading to other cities around the UK, it is important that help is available to those who need it.

If you or someone you love is struggling to break free from a legal high addiction, call us here at We can help by putting you in touch with a suitable treatment provider with experience in this type of addiction. Call today for more information.

Source: Rise of the zombies: Cheaper and more addictive than crack, Spice is the synthetic drug that turns users into the ‘living dead’ in minutes and is ruining lives across Britain (Daily Mail)

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