New “legal highs” haven’t caught on

Rough days by bayat
Rough days, a photo by bayat on Flickr.

A new piece of research carried out in South London suggests that legal highs – other than mephedrone – may be less popular than the media myth may have us believe.

Interviews with with just over 300 clubbers found:

  • 206 (66%) had previously used a ‘legal high’.
  • Mephedrone had the highest prevalence of last month use (53%) and use on the night of the survey (41%).
  • This was greater than both cocaine (45% and 17%, respectively) and MDMA/ecstasy (27% and 6%)
  • There was limited use on the fieldwork night of the non-mephedrone ‘legal highs’: including the ketamine-substitute methoxetamine or ‘mexxy’ (2%), the cannabis-substitute Spice/K2 (0.6%) and the pipradrols (0.6%).

While this is a small scale survey it is amongst a group that has frequently been ‘early adopters’ which leads Fiona Measham who conducted the research to say:

“Although there is some experimentation with ‘legal highs’, only mephedrone has become an established part of the recreational drug scene. For the majority of ‘legal highs’ that have come onto the market since mephedrone was banned, use is low or non-existent. This suggests that what we are seeing is a pattern of differentiated demand for drugs – just because drugs are for sale doesn’t necessarily mean that people are buying them.”

More here and here.

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