A new system has been set up by the government in order to help emergency services understand the best ways to deal with people suffering from the side effects of new psychoactive substances (NPS).
Report Illicit Drug Reaction (RIDR), the system, is being directed by Public Health England (PHE) as a result of reports suggesting that formerly known "legal highs" such as Spice are being widely used by young people and vulnerable adults (including homeless people and prisoners) despits its ban in 2015.
Although health services are dealing with the increasing popularity of these drugs, PHE said the harm is "often poorly misunderstood" in frontline healthcare services and there is "little guidance" for those who use them.
RIDR will be available to all staff in health related services such as A&E, sexual health clinics, mental health servies, prison health services, drug treatment services and GP surgeries. It will consist of an online portal where users will be able to inform others on how to identify NPS drug symptoms, treat NPS users, and improve patient safety.
There have been recent reports accounting how Spice is giving homeless people in the UK "zombie-like symptoms" and making them appear to freeze on the spot and remain motionless.
Julie Boyle, a support worker at Lifeshare, a homeless charity based in Manchester, told The Times: "It's harder to come off Spice than it is to come off heroin." She went on to say that it "makes vulnerable people more vulnerable."
According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales, 1 in 40 young adults aged 16 – 24 tried a new psychoactive substance last year.
Rosanna O'Connor, director of Alcohol, Drugs and Tobacco at PHE, said: "the contents of New Psychoactive Substances frequently change and their effects can be dangerous and unpredictable." She continued, "the ban [on 'legal highs'/NPS] has helped reduce their easy availability, but we are still seeing the most vulnerable groups ... suffering thee greatest harm from these substances. The new RIDR system will help health staff better deal with the emerging challenges we are seeing."
Dr Sarah Elise Finlay, emergency medicine consultant at Imperial College Healthcare said: "The information and advice provided by this new system will ultimately ease some of the burden and stress of managing those tricky overdose and poisoning cases ... "
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Source: International Business Times