New synthetic mixes put recreational drug users at risk

drug addictionJust a couple of years ago, the UK became the cocaine capital of Europe as an increasing number of young people are trying the drug and getting addicted.

According to the EU's drug agency, nearly 15 per cent of Brits aged between 18 and 34-years-old have tried cocaine at least once and this number is rising.

However, it isn't just cocaine that young people are becoming addicted to.

New designer drugs keep emerging on a regular basis – remember Spice or Miaow Miaow, with the latter starting off as a legal high.

In fact, earlier this year student Alex Herriot died after taking a legal high at RockNess music festival.

He supposedly took Benzo Fury, an amphetamine that is sold online and over the counter.

This has now been made illegal as several young people have died from it.

The main problem with this form of drug is that many see it as recreational and do not see the dangers associated with them.

Instead, most people assume drug addicts are dependent on the 'hard stuff' but recreational drug use can easily spiral into an addiction problem for which they need help to get off them again.

Now, a leading addiction specialist has argued that the classification of drugs is pointless as they are all as dangerous as each other in terms of people becoming addicted, side-effects and overdoses.

Tony Geoghegan, chief executive of Merchant Quays Ireland, has warned recreational drug users that new synthetic mixes are putting them at risk.

This includes legal highs as well as drugs that are mixed together to create 'more of a buzz'.

He said: "People think that drugs like ecstasy and amphetamines are soft drugs or recreational drugs.

"And paradoxically, it's experimenters and recreational users that are most vulnerable because they probably know the least about drugs, the least about what the effects are like, what to expect, how to manage them, how to source them. All that. It really is a difficult situation."

Just taking drugs at the weekend or on nights out can easily lead to an addiction.

In fact, just a few weeks ago comedian Russell Brand met Professor David Nutt and discovered that certain personalities are more prone to becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol in a documentary for BBC3 – that's one of the theories anyway.

Regardless of the reasons for why people become addicted to drugs, it is important they receive help as it impacts their ability to work, lead a high quality of life, affects their health and comes with the risk of a fatal overdose.

There are some common signs and symptoms to look out for in terms of drug addiction.

These include: someone neglecting their duties at work or home because of drug use; taking risks such as driving while under the influence; and unprotected sex.

It's also worth looking out for someone getting into legal trouble, such as arrests for disorderly conduct or stealing to support a drug habit.

Problems in relationships can also be a signal of drug abuse as it can cause fights between partners, friends and loved ones.

If you are used to taking drugs recreationally, signs you've developed an addiction include building up a tolerance. Do you need to take more to experience the same effects you used to obtain?

Experiencing withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, restlessness, insomnia, depression, sweating, shaking and anxiety are also signs of an addiction.

Losing control over your drug use is an addiction symptom too. This means feeling the need to take drugs more often than you used to. Even if you want to stop using, you feel you can't.

If your life revolves around drug use, which means spending lots of time thinking about them, working out how to get them and recovering from their effects, you also need to seek help.

Another sign of a drug addiction is abandoning activities you used to enjoy, such as hobbies and sports, while continuing to use drugs when you know it is bad for you is a clue too.

It can cause blackouts, infections, mood swings, depression and paranoia.

If you recognise any of these symptoms in a loved one or yourself, regardless of whether they/you use a soft or hard drug, you should seek advice from a medical professional who may refer you for treatment of which there are several options.

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