Angelus Foundation: tackling legal highs
Image: Angelus at Brownstock Festival, Essex speaking to festival goers about legal drugs
The number of deaths linked to legal highs rose from 10 in 2009 to 68 in 2012, according to the National Programme on Substance Abuse Deaths, and drug misuse deaths also rose sharply last year. The Angelus Foundation, supported by Maudsley Charity, campaigns to raise awareness of the dangers of these drugs.
Legal but still harmful
'Legal highs' are defined as experimental research chemicals, or ones sold as plant feed, which are available on the high street because they escape classification under the Misuse of Drugs Act. One popular such drug was mephedrone or 'meow-meow' which was successfully banned in 2010.
Just this month ministers announced that five legal highs - including one popular alternative to cocaine - have been banned. This news came based on recommendations from the government’s official drug advisers that these substances should face a temporary ban of 12 months while a full assessment of the harm they posed was undertaken.
This is a new strategy to deal with the fact that, under existing drug law, banning one substance only results in chemists tweaking the molecular compound slightly to produce a 'new' drug.
Bringing together expertise
The Angelus Foundation seeks to raise awareness in young people of the dangers of taking legal recreational drugs. These substances usually emerge as alternatives to illegal drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy but can be equally as harmful
It is comprised of a group of experts which make up the Angelus Advisory Board, who bring together their expertise from chemical, medical and behavioural sciences, and the areas of enforcement and misuse of substances.
It was founded in 2009 by Maryon Stewart, the health practitioner, author and broadcaster, as a result of personal tragedy. Her 21-year-old daughter, Hester, who was a medical student and athlete, passed away after consuming what was (at the time) a legal high called GBL in April 2009.
‘We’ve been very grateful for the support we’ve had from Maudsley,’ says Jeremy Sare, Director for Policy and Communications at Angelus Foundation. ‘It’s been absolutely critical to our campaign and pivotal in our ability to deliver to our target groups.’
Find out more about the Angelus Foundation and the funding it has received from Maudsley Charity.