Legal Highs; a dangerous lottery

For the team at Students’ Health the ‘Festival Season’ usually heralds a significant increase in the number of cases of Trench Foot we deal with. A combination of knee deep mud for 3 days and cheap footwear is guaranteed to lead to a consultation for a grim looking foot with bits hanging off.

However we have also noted over the last few years a significant increase in the number of people worried about how they are feeling after taking a ‘legal high’ whilst partying.  These after-effects can last days, and as we have little research available on them we can’t be sure that they won’t have long term detrimental effects too.

Names of legal highs include; benzo fury, bubble, m-cat, liquid E, and scoop.

So before you head off to Glasto/ Bestival/ Winchester Chamber Music Festival 2013 (just kidding!) perhaps consider this…


  • Legal highs are substances that are taken like illegal drugs, such as cocaine, but not currently covered by the misuse of drugs laws, and therefore legal to possess or use.
  • Just because they are legal they are not necessarily approved for use or safe. Most are not suitable for human consumption. They are usually sold as ‘plant food’ or ‘bath salts’.
  • Some legal highs contain illegal compounds.
  • Risks are unpredictable as their components can change from one pill to the next. Recent research at the club drugs’ clinic in London found that 2 items, identically packaged, purchased from the same website on the same day were in fact 2 completely different chemical compounds when analysed. You would have no idea what you are actually taking.
  • Some previously legal highs have now become illegal, eg Black Mamba, Annihilation and Mexxy, and others are being looked at all the time by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.
  • Their effects include drowsiness, paranoid states, reduced inhibitions, seizures, coma and death. Some completely destroy the bladder, leading to permanent incontinence.


Taking legal highs is a risky business, and if you are interested in reports from users then click on the link below.

We want you to enjoy the summer and all the festivals, whatever your musical tastes! Please think seriously about the consequences of  entering the ‘legal high lottery’.