Pupils treated after legal highs at Glasgow schools

Legal high drugs. Picture: Greg Macvean
Legal high drugs. Picture: Greg Macvean
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FIFTEEN pupils required medical attention after taking so-called legal highs during the school day, figures from Scotland’s largest council show.

Details obtained by The Scotsman from Glasgow City Council show pupils required first aid or were taken to hospital after taking substances including “Black Mamba” and “Cyclone”.

The figures show that since October 2012, there have been 15 incidents in the city’s schools involving legal highs and three in which pupils needed medical attention after drinking alcohol.

Earlier this month, MSPs called for a crackdown on the availability of legal highs after an increase in hospital admissions across Scotland over the past five years.

Aberdeen City Council said there were five incidents involving legal highs or caffeinated drinks at its schools in 2012-13.

On one occasion, pupils were taken to Accident and Emergency possibly after taking the now- illegal mephedrone, sometimes known as M-Cat.

In the majority of cases noted by both councils, the substance taken was unknown. While Black Mamba and M-Cat were named, both have recently been criminalised amid concerns over their safety.

Statistical details regarding pupils requiring medical treatment after taking legal highs were not held by other large Scottish councils.

A spokeswoman for the charity Scottish Drugs Forum said: “New psychoactive substances, commonly sold as legal highs are of appeal to a wide range of user groups, including young people.

“Our work across Scotland suggests that these substances are an area of concern for services who work with young people and their introduction to the market has had an impact on current drug trends.

“It also seems to be a growing trend for people to use multiple substances at the one time, especially with alcohol.

“It is important that people who choose to use these substances have access to up-to-date information in order to make informed choices.

“This is a particular challenge with such substances as little is known about the long-term effects, the risks and possible health harms from using them.” The SDF said many young people were unaware that legal highs carried similar risks to the illegal drugs they are designed to mimic.

The forum confirmed work was currently under way in schools by charities to educate pupils about the potential dangers of the substances.

Figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives earlier this month showed there have been 323 hospital admissions as a result of legal highs since 2009, with cases doubling over the last two years. However, the real figure could be much higher, as only six health boards could supply figures.

Commenting on their own figures, a spokeswoman for Glasgow City Council said: “Our schools are working with the appropriate partners to reiterate the message to young people about the dangers of using unknown substances.

“This behaviour will not be tolerated in our schools and young people are putting themselves at untold risk.”