News Release

Warning on legal highs after the death of a teenager

Dated: 27 Feb 2012

Police are warning users of legal highs after the death of a teenager in South Shields.

At 1.35am on Saturday, February 25, police received a report of a concern for the welfare of a man at an address in Mortimer Road in South Shields.

An 18-year-old man was taken to hospital where he later died. Police have prepared a report for the coroner.

Although police are awaiting the result of toxicology tests, officers are looking into the possibility the teenager had taken a legal high and are warning of the dangers potentially posed them.

Neighbourhood Inspector Peter Sutton said: "While there is no specific issue with legal high substances in South Shields, we are aware of the growing trend in their use in other parts of the country.

"I would like to stress that the use of so called legal high drugs is not safe and can kill or have a devastating impact upon your health.

"These substances often contain potentially dangerous chemicals and can cause death. Other symptoms range from reduced inhibitions, drowsiness, excited or paranoid states, unconsciousness and seizures. These risks are increased if mixed with alcohol or other stimulants."

Melanie Soutar, South Tyneside Matrix young people's service manager, said: "We need to continue to raise public awareness that just because a drug is legal to possess, it doesn’t mean it’s safe.

"Legal highs can carry serious health risks, the chemicals they contain have in most cases never been used in drugs for human consumption before, and little research has been done on the short or long-term effects of use.  

"Users can never be certain what they are taking and what the effects might be. It is becoming increasingly clear that 'legal highs' are far from harmless."

For free advice call the national drug awareness campaign FRANK on 08700 77 6600 or visit www.talktofrank.com.