It is not only young people and parents who seriously lack knowledge about legal highs and club drugs. The scientists often do not have the data on what is in these new substances. At a time when the range of drugs available has increased hugely, the capability of laboratories to carry out the necessary research to identify the substances has diminished. For example, last year saw the closure of the Forensic Science Service.
We are seeking the necessary resources to properly test and identify these substances in a dedicated lab. This work will be one of the cornerstone of the Angelus Foundation – we will for the first time be able to monitor the new synthetic drugs.
A dedicated, specialised laboratory will enable toxicologists to provide new information on a regular basis on the ingredients which make up each new legal high as it emerges onto the market so that there is broader understanding of the effects and the harms of these substances. This vital facility, the basis for saving lives, does not currently exist anywhere in the world.
The laboratory work will be complemented by the establishment of a ‘novel substance assessment’ team will undertake studies of the physical impact of the new drugs on the human body and systematically record their findings to produce a definitive reference source – the first of its kind in the country.
This process will provide valuable information to medical professionals in Accident and Emergency departments who are presented with cases of acute harm (“toxicity”) associated with new recreational drugs. There will be continued analysis of newly confiscated items and test-purchasing of legal highs from suppliers to detect new substances on the market.