Cheltenham mum says tough laws needed on legal highs after son's breakdown
TOUGH laws should be introduced to tackle legal drugs, according to a woman who says her son had a mental breakdown after taking substances he bought in a Cheltenham shop.
The woman from Cheltenham, who asked not to be named, said her son began taking legal highs when he was 18 and soon after had to be committed to a psychiatric hospital due to his mental health rapidly deteriorating.
She claims her son bought a 'legal high' substance at a shop in Cheltenham town centre.
When the Echo contacted the shop to ask whether it sold the substance, the manager refused to comment. It is not illegal to sell the product.
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The mum said: "This stuff is legal but it made my son very unwell very quickly. The legislation to section someone is pretty rigid and it would be nice to see the same type of legislation applied to these legal drugs.
"I'm thinking of vulnerable people like schoolchildren who think that because they are legal they are safe."
Her son is now 24 and still recovering in the hospital.
She says she phoned the owner of the shop to question her about selling the substance.
"I rang the owner of the shop he had bought them in and she told me she never sold them to people who were unwell, but there's no way she can really tell," she said.
Mental health nurse Shelley Jones, a unit manager for the 2gether NHS Foundation Trust, has serious concerns about the legal highs.
She said: "I know of people buying them in both Cheltenham and Gloucester and they seem to be freely available on the internet as well. That doesn't mean they aren't harmful though. In fact, I would say they are more harmful than some illegal drugs in terms of the health implications.
"A number of people we work with have had an extremely bad reaction to these drugs – both in terms of a severe deterioration in their mental health, and extreme reactions in their physical health.
"They are dangerous enough when used on their own, but mixed with alcohol, prescription medication and other drugs, they can have a severe impact."