New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) – previously referred to as “Legal” Highs – are created by slightly tweaking the molecular structure of existing illegal drugs, like ecstasy. Because these are chemically brand new substances, many of them previously remained legal by default. The Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 came into force on 26 May, making it illegal to produce, supply, import or export a psychoactive substance that is likely to be used to get high.

NPS were previously sold under a range of names and brands, typically via the internet or in specialist shops called head shops. NPS can be just as dangerous as illegal drugs and sometimes more so, with some NPS being up to 10,000 times stronger than traditional drugs.

Change, grow, live (CGL) is committed to working with NPS users and to educating the wider community about the dangers of these substances.

CGL has now launched a new toolkit to work with people using NPS:

nps toolkit

We have identified 7 key NPS types:

  • Empathogens
  • Hallucinogens
  • Dissociatives
  • Stimulants
  • Opioids
  • Depressants
  • Cannabinoids

The strength can vary from substance to substance – some may be stronger than you expect.

Avoid mixing NPS with any other substances, including alcohol.

NPS and prisons – a practical response to a growing problem

Change, grow, live have been determined to develop new and effective ways of dealing with both the supply, treatment and support for people affected by NPS use in prisons.

Working closely with Annette Dale-Perera (Vice Chair of the ACMD) we have developed an organisation-wide strategy and approach that promotes health and well-being, educates people about the prevalence, effects and risks associated with NPS, supports staff to recognise and respond effectively to NPS use amongst their service users. We have trained prison officers and partners in a number of establishments raising their awareness and increasing their understanding of the issues they face on a daily basis.

As importantly we have developed a bespoke treatment programme that incorporates validated screening and assessment tools alongside the best international evidence of what treatments work to promote recovery.

Coronavirus information


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