On 16 October 2012, Angelus, launched the Find Out (www.whynotfindout.org) campaign. Backed by the Amy Winehouse Foundation, Find Out is the first national campaign to inform and educate young people and parents about the dangers of taking ‘legal highs’ and other harmful social substances.
The leading European Drug Agency (EMCDDA) announced in April 2012 there was almost one new substance a week being discovered. The harms and dangers of these new drugs are completely unknown although many appear potentially lethal; Unfortunately, it is not possible to give a precise number of deaths from legal highs but a year ago the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs estimated the number of UK deaths from Mephedrone was 127.
New research has found most (86%) parents are lacking the vital knowledge needed to warn their children about the dangers of ‘legal highs’, despite teenagers admitting to experimenting with them because they are perceived to be safe.
The Find Out campaign consists of an advertising campaign designed by advertising agency, Leagas Delaney and a supporting website – www.whynotfindout.org – which provides impartial information and advice for young people to help them make informed decisions about legal highs. The advertising campaign will include national posters, print and online advertising as well as digital posters at key mainline train stations. The website includes information from leading experts on legal highs as well as club drugs.
Substances sold as ‘legal highs’ are invariably an unknown quantity. They may be a dangerous combination of toxic chemicals which young people take, believing they are safe. They may even contain Class B drugs like Mephedrone which means they are not legal. Angelus’s Findout campaign makes clear these drugs and are certainly not safe and may not even be legal. There is a wide range of potential side effects can include psychosis, depression, panic attacks, heart problems, loss of use of the bladder and even death.
In the last few years, several ‘legal highs’ such as GBL and Mephedrone (and club drugs like Ketamine) have been classified as illegal but many uncontrolled and unregulated legal highs such as Benzo Fury and MDAI are still widely available to buy over the internet. These ‘legal highs’ are actively marketed at young people, with no warnings about the potential health hazards. Findout campaign will be highlighting the dangers of these unknown substances.
Maryon Stewart, Founder of the Angelus Foundation said, “There has been an unprecedented and continual influx of new ‘legal highs’ in the country. There is a huge knowledge gap in their effects and the dangers they present. Legal does not mean safe. Angelus is devoted to raising awareness of the dangers of legal highs and club drugs and providing information and impartial advice to both young people and parents alike. Through the Find Out campaign, we can give young people the facts they need to make an informed, and wiser, decision and also give parents the tools to start these conversations with their children.”
Mitch Winehouse, Founder of the Amy Winehouse Foundation said, “A whole generation of young people is at risk from ‘legal highs’ simply because they don’t know what serious harm they can come to by taking them. We’re delighted to be working collaboratively with the Angelus Foundation to help set the record straight about the dangers of legal highs and club drugs, and to prevent any more senseless deaths.”